|1955 (moved to its current location)|
With the proliferation of commercial shipping in the mid 19th Century, Detroit became a major port and place of leave for sailors. At that time it was common practice for churches to charge their parishioners for seating. Because sailors were so poorly paid, they were often relegated to sit in the rear pews because they could not afford a decent seat. Having witnessed these sailors being marginalized for much of her adult life, Julia Anderson donated her land at the terminus of Woodward Avenue for a church specifically catering to sailors with all the seats being free. Anderson came to Detroit in 1818 with her husband, Colonel John Anderson, who was charged with opening the Detroit precursor to the Army Corps of Engineers.
The church opened in 1848 and is non-denominational, though it generally follows an Anglican Liturgy. It served in continuous operation in its original location until the early 1950′s when plans were drawn up for a new civic center. There was talk of demolishing the building, but the citizens banded together and the church was moved 900 feet east to its current location. This was quite a feat considering the building weighs in at 3000 ton.
The Edmund Fitzgerald was a massive freighter that sunk in Lake Superior in 1975 and resulted in the loss of its entire crew of 29. The following day Bishop Richard Ingalls, Sr., rang the church bell 29 times in honor of the loss sailors. Gordon Lightfoot, a Canadian pop/folk singer, wrote a song which immortalized the event and mentioned the Bishop’s symbolic gesture with the lyrics: In a musty old hall in Detroit they prayed/In the Maritime Sailors’ Cathedral/The church bell chimed ’til it rang 29 times/For each man on the Edmund Fitzgerald.
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