Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church Complex

Also known as: Assumption Grotto Church Complex
13770 Gratiot Ave., Detroit, Michigan


Oct. 2012

Photo taken by Rattrak



Street View 


A two sided Michigan Historical Marker here reads: Assumption Roman Catholic Church

The origins of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Roman Catholic Church can be traced to 1830, when German immigrants first arrived in Detroit. Warned away from cholera-stricken Detroit, they built a log church here in 1832. In what was then the outskirts of the city, Redemptorist missionaries served Kirchen Wald (Church in the Woods) until it was designated a parish by Bishop Peter Paul LeFevre in 1847. It is the second oldest parish in Detroit. Father Amandus Vandendriessche, the first full-time pastor, was assigned here in 1852 and immediately began building a permanent structure. Built of bricks made on the premises, the church was completed in time for Christmas services that same year.

Assumption Grotto Church Complex

To meet the needs of the growing congregation, this church was begun in 1928. Designed by the Detroit architectural firm Aloys Frank Herman, Incorporated, the limestone-faced, Neo-Gothic, basilica-plan church was dedicated on September 22, 1929. A unique feature of the church grounds is the grotto, a shrine located in the parish cemetery. Father Amandus Vandendriessche, who had served Assumption Church since 1852, visited France in 1876 and was so inspired by the Shrine at Our Lady of Lourdes that he decided to create a replica at his own parish. The grotto has attracted visitors since its dedication in June 1881. The entire church complex, which consists of the church, parish house, rectory, cemetery and grotto, was entered into the National Register of Historic Places in 1991.

National Register information 

Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on August 5, 1991
Reference number
Architectural styles
Late 19th and 20th Century Revival: Late Gothic Revival; Victorian: Renaissance
Area of significance
Level of significance
Evaluation criteria
C - Design/Construction
Property type
Historic functions
Religious structure; Cemetery; Church related residence
Current functions
Religious structure; Cemetery; Church related residence
Periods of significance
1900-1924; 1875-1899; 1925-1949
Significant years
1881; 1883; 1929
Number of properties
Contributing buildings: 3
Contributing structures: 1
Contributing sites: 1
Non-contributing buildings: 1


19th Century (38,050)
Brick (42,466)
Built 1881 (392)
Built during 1880s (6,537)
Church (5,756)
Detroit, Michigan (232)
Have Street View (49,514)
Late 19th and 20th Century Revival (16,278)
Late Gothic Revival (1,145)
Michigan (1,964)
Peter Dederichs (2)
Place of worship (6,125)
Private owner (54,402)
Renaissance (1,333)
Slate (5,715)
Stone (26,168)
Victorian (19,703)
Wayne County, Michigan (350)

Update Log 

  • October 6, 2012: New photo from Rattrak
  • September 27, 2012: New Street View added by Rattrak