Abandoned Detroit East Grand Methodist Church
The now abandoned Detroit East Grand Methodist Church was founded in the 1888, when the land was farmland. For 12 years the church moved from one location to another, “…and four times was obliged to take quarters either adjoining to or above a saloon, where the tinkle of the slot piano mingled with doxology,” according to the Detroit Free Press newspaper in 1908.
In 1899, the church moved to a new location, building a wood frame chapel in 1900. The congregation grew to 149 in 1904, and in 1907, Reverend Charles Ryerson was assigned to lead the church, no longer a mission. His first goal was the construction of a new church on land that had been bought a few blocks away. On one Sunday alone, he raised $10,000 towards the construction of the church.
The cornerstone was laid down in a ceremony June 27th, 1908, attended by leaders of other Methodist Churches from across the city. Made of red paving brick with gray stone trimmings, the sanctuary seated 750, with a gym in the basement serving as a community center. Construction had proceeded enough to where services were being held in the unfinished basement by September of 1909.
Reverend Ryerson didn’t stay long at the partially completed church, however, having come to odds with Methodist leadership over the direction his faith was taking. In September of 1909 the congregation of Fisher Church split, with one half supporting Ryerson, and the other half opposing him. His congregation retreated back to the previous location on Bellevue, while accusations about his conduct were made and responded to in the newspapers. Facing banishment to a church in North Dakota, he and 75 supporters withdrew from the Methodist Episcopal church, renaming themselves The People’s Tabernacle. Fisher Methodist continued on under Reverend Samuel Jennings, and the church was formally dedicated in March of 1910.
A year after leaving Fisher Methodist, Reverend Ryerson moved to the Episcopal faith, splitting his church again. This time however the church continued on without him, renaming itself the First Methodist Protestant church of Detroit, and Ryerson faded into obscurity.
By 1913, Fisher Methodist had grown from 100 to 325 members, with upwards of 600 attending Sunday services. Sometime around 1920 the church had changed its name to the East Grand Boulevard Methodist, a name it would carry for the rest of its days. In 1926 a church house was built next to the sanctuary, with classrooms in the basement, and a gymnasium on the first floor.
Where once the church had stood at least 10 feet back from the road, the road was widened in the 1930’s, cutting off the fronts of many stores and places of worship and bringing the road right up to the edge of the church. In 1936, East Grand Boulevard was widened as well, and to accommodate the wider street, the parish house was picked up off its foundation and moved to face Grand boulevard.
Several alterations were made to the sanctuary; the southwest corner was removed to make way for the parish house, which then joined the rear of the church, while the porch of the sanctuary was removed and remodeled to make way for Grand Boulevard. A kitchen was added to the rear of the sanctuary, leaving a small hollow triangle where the three buildings met.
There is little history of East Grand Boulevard Methodist from the 1940’s on, aside from that the church was dissolved in 1985, and replaced by Second Unity Full Gospel Baptist Church, which left in 2000. The church has been vacant since then.