Fort Street Presbyterian Church and Fort Street Union Depot, 1962

Photograph courtesy of The Walter P. Reuther Library, Wayne State University

1962A summer storm with a bolt of lightning chiseled against the night sky lends dramatic intensity to two Detroit landmarks: Fort Street Presbyterian Church and the old Fort Street Union Depot. The first train arrived at Union Depot in 1893, and in 1971, the St. Louis-bound Wabash Cannonball pulled out of the station for the last time. Three years later, the sandstone-and-brick structure, crowned by its four-sided illuminated clock, came tumbling down. History has been kinder to Fort Street Presbyterian, which was built in 1855, although the church was organized in 1849. Owing to its towering 265-foot spire, the church was once the tallest structure in the city, before the advent of skyscrapers. The Gothic Revival limestone edifice endured fires in 1876 and 1914, but was rebuilt. The church was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971 and continues to thrive today, with worshippers filling its hand-carved black-walnut pews.

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