St. Florian Catholic Church – Hamtramck, Michigan
St. Florian Roman Catholic Church (1926) at 2626 Poland Street in Hamtramck is one of two excellent, local Gothic Revival designs by famed Boston architect Ralph Adams Cram. (The Cathedral Church of St. Paul at 4800 Woodward is the other). Cram is most well known for his many neo-Gothic ecclesiastical structures, especially in the northeast U.S. Other Gothic Revival churches of note designed by Cram include Euclid Avenue Presbyterian Church in Cleveland, Calvary Episcopal Church in Pittsburgh, Fourth Presbyterian Church of Chicago, Trinity Episcopal Church in Houston, Cathedral of Hope in Pittsburgh, and the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in Manhattan.
Cram is also noted for his advancement of the American Collegiate Gothic style of architecture, exemplified primarily by his influential work as Princeton University’s first consulting architect from 1907 to 1929. At Princeton, Cram oversaw the construction of 25 or so buildings over the course of his tenure, with four buildings designed entirely by his own firms, including Cleveland Tower and the Princeton University Chapel. Other major collegiate works by Cram in varying styles include Donehy Hall at the Univesity of Southern California, Mary Helen Cochran Library at Sweet Briar College in Virginia, Lovett Hall at Rice University in Houston, and the Academy Building at Philip Exeter Academy in New Hampshire.
Hamtramck’s St. Florian Parish was created in 1907 in response to a massive influx of Polish Catholic immigrants to the area at the turn of the century, overflowing the neighboring Polish Catholic churches of St. Josaphat, St. Stanislaus, St. Albertus and Sweetest Heart of Mary. Saint Florian parishioners first met inside a local storefront and in 1910 their first church was built. By the early 1920s St. Florian was the second largest parish in the Detroit Diocese, and with the opening of the new Hamtramck Dodge Main plant, also in 1910, it quickly outgrew its first building. In the mid-20s Cram was hired to design the parish’s current church. The monumental steel-frame structure features a wide Gothic arch, twin spires and elaborate two-tone brickwork embellishments. It dwarfs the neighborhood’s modest two-story residences in dramatic fashion. Interior decorative elements include superb Gothic ribbed vaulting and numerous stained glass panels fabricated by the J.M. Kase Company of New York. Mass is still spoken in Polish at St. Florian five days a week. ~I♥DM
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