Most Read
  • Detroit area code 313 may be phased out

    Hey, everybody from the 313, start thinking of new numbers to rally around– the longstanding Detroit area code may be phased out. Our friends over at the Detroit News report that pending a revised estimate next week, the North American Numbering Plan Administration will stop handing out 313 telephone prefixes on new phone numbers. Detroiters with existing cell phone lines would be able to keep their current area codes, while those with land lines would change. via Detroit News: The venerable 313 will ultimately become overtaxed. Even as Detroit’s population has fallen, cellphone usage has accelerated like one of those smoldering SRT Vipers that Dodge has been bolting together at Conner Avenue Assembly — which is, of course, comfortably within the confines of 313. … When the first five dozen area codes were assigned nearly 70 years ago, says NANPA’s Tom Foley, “that was expected basically to last forever.” Instead, somebody invented fax machines, and then somebody else came up with cellphones, and lots of somebody elses decided to give them to 10-year-olds, and meantime the population grew to 300 million. Now every telephone carrier is required to submit twice-yearly forecasts of its needs in each area code, factoring in […]

    The post Detroit area code 313 may be phased out appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Final members selected for Red Wings arena Neighborhood Advisory Council

    Unfortunately, we were unable to attend last night’s Neighborhood Advisory Council, which, in case you were unaware, is a 16-member board established to weigh in on the new Red Wings arena near downtown. About three dozen residents and property owners cast ballots by the 8 p.m. deadline on Wednesday inside the Block at Cass Park, The Detroit News reports. It’s the culmination of a handful of community meetings which began weeks ago. Councilwoman Raquel Castaneda Lopez facilitated the meetings, but emphasized at previous meetings that it’s up to the community to conduct business. According to the News, the 12 candidates selected include: Michael Boettcher, Richard Etue, Jason Gapa, Francis Grunow, Steve Guether, Paul Hughes, Ray Litt, Warner Doyle McBryde, Karen McLeod, Delphia Simmons, Melissa Thomas and Anthony Zander. Joel Landy, a land owner in the area, lost his bid. The City Council appointed four candidates last month. As we reported in this week’s issue, the Neighborhood Advisory Committee was negotiated after Olympia Development of Michigan, Detroit Red Wing’s owner Mike Ilitch’s real estate arm, balked on a proposed community benefits agreement.  The committee is charged with the task of offering input on the arena’s design, parking security and more.

    The post Final members selected for Red Wings arena Neighborhood Advisory Council appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • James McMurtry and The Bottle Rockets coming to the Magic Bag

    The Magic Bag in Ferndale will host James McMurtry and The Bottle Rockets on Thursday, May 28, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20. A press release reads, “James McMurtry recently signed with the bourgeoning Los Angeles record label Complicated Game. The legendary songwriter will enter the studio later this month to start working on his first album in six years. “I’ve got a new batch of songs, organic and with no added sulfites, aged in oak for several years,” he says. “Francois Moret at Complicated Game seems to like these songs and (producer) C.C. Adcock thinks he can turn them into a record. Good times fixing to roll.” Label head Moret agrees. “In March 2013, when C.C. Adcock told me we were going to see James McMurtry at the Continental Club in Austin, I expected to see a good show,” he says, “but what I saw left me mesmerized! I immediately knew I wanted to sign him. As a European, it is an amazing opportunity to work with one of the most talented American singer-songwriters.” Evidence: McMurtry’s Just Us Kids (2008) and Childish Things (2005). The former earned his highest Billboard 200 chart position in nearly two decades and notched […]

    The post James McMurtry and The Bottle Rockets coming to the Magic Bag appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: Dead Kennedys to have a holiday in Detroit

    The Dead Kennedys, still with local boy Klaus Flouride in the ranks, will play St. Andrew’s Hall on Tuesday, June 24. Alongside Flouride and fellow original members East Bay Ray and DH Peligro, the current lineup includes singer Ron “Skip” Greer, taking the place of Jello Biafra. Downtown Brown will open that show, which starts at 7 p.m., with tickets priced $20-$25. Give Klaus a hero’s hometown welcome. Just over a week before that, strangely enough, Jello Biafra & the Guantanamo School of Medicine will play at the Magic Stick. It’s a weird coincidence, but one that DK fans should be happy to embrace. That show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets are $17-$19. Local hardcore vets Negative Approach play before Jello, with the Crashdollz opening the show. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: Dead Kennedys to have a holiday in Detroit appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Planet Ant presents A Steady Rain

    The Planet Ant Theatre in Hamtramck will present a police drama called A Steady Rain May 2 through 24. Planet Ant veterans Ryan Carlson and York Griffith will star in the play, written by House of Cards and Mad Men co-writer Keith Huff. Tickets ($10-$20) are on sale now at According to the press release, “A Steady Rain by Keith Huff focuses on Joey and Denny, best friends since kindergarten and partners on the police force whose loyalty to each other is tested by domestic affairs, violence and the rough streets of Chicago. Joey helps Denny with his family and Denny helps Joey stay off the bottle. But when a routine disturbance call takes a turn for the worse their loyalty is put to the ultimate test.First produced at Chicago Dramatists, A Steady Rain appeared on Broadway featuring Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig. The Planet Ant production of A Steady Rain is directed by York Griffith featuring Ryan Carlson and Andy Huff. This marks the return of two of Planet Ant’s founding members. Carlson and Griffith. Griffith has served as the theatre’s Artistic Director where he directed the critically-acclaimed productions The Adding Machine and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? […]

    The post Planet Ant presents A Steady Rain appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • You can wear Detroit’s blight on your face

    There is no easy answer to the question regarding what should be done with Detroit’s abandoned homes. However, an Eastern Market company has a solution that could reflect Detroit’s possibly bright future. Homes Eyewear has set out to make the city a little more stylish, and do their part in cleaning it up by repurposing select woods from neglected homes for sunglasses. All of the wood that Homes uses is harvested from vacant houses with the assistance of Reclaim Detroit. A lot of work goes into prepping the wood to be cut and shaped into frames. Homes goes through each piece to remove nails, paint or anything else detrimental to their production (it’s a bit strange to think that your wooden sunglasses could have had family portraits nailed to them). In order to produce more durable eyewear, they salvage only hardwoods like maple or beech, which are difficult to come by as most of the blighted homes were built with softer woods like Douglas fir and pine. If you’re worried about looking goofy, or shudder at the thought of salvaged wood resting on your nose, you can rest easy. Homes currently offers frames in the popular wayfarer style and are developing their unique spin on the classic aviators. For as […]

    The post You can wear Detroit’s blight on your face appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.



Search thousands of events in our database.


Search hundreds of restaurants in our database.


Search hundreds of clubs in our database.

MT on Twitter
MT on Facebook

Print Email


Poletown saints

A beautiful 125-year-old church lives on despite faith-testing circumstances

Photo: Detroitblogger John, License: N/A

Detroitblogger John

Brian Baka, guardian of the temple, sits by the mannequin of St. Stanislaus' corpse.

It's hard to hear the priest.

His voice has softened with age, he's got a thick Polish accent and his microphone keeps cutting in and out. Still, Father Edward Kaszak pushes forward with the Mass, a little in fluent Polish, some in halting English, giving the most unique liturgy in town.

There are only 12 parishioners seated in the pews at the front. There's room behind them for almost 2,500 more.

It's Sunday at St. Albertus Catholic Church in Detroit's old Poletown. But this isn't an official church anymore; the Archdiocese of Detroit closed it 20 years ago. These infrequent Masses aren't sanctioned anymore; they're performed by the freelance priest who bikes in from Hamtramck, wearing black clothes and a backpack.

The lights are kept low during services to save money, so the church stays dim except when light pours through the stained glass windows, bathing everything in soft colors. The heat is on just to keep the water pipes from freezing, so in winter the congregants inside wear winter coats.

The plaster in the 125-year-old church is chipping, the paint is peeling, scrappers have set upon the place with fervor, and the only thing standing between it and destruction are the efforts of a handful of people who've devoted themselves to keeping a magnificent relic alive.

There's no place else like it in Detroit. The way its tattered beauty still shows despite its age, the way a handful of people keep it going despite the challenges, the way its past was wild and sometimes even violent, it's a lot like the city it has stood in all these years.

"This place is not only a statement about God; it's a statement about us," says Bob Duda, 64, part of the Polish American Historic Site Association, the group that takes care of St. Albertus. "It's like a skyscraper — here we are folks, we're important, just as important as anybody else. We're going to be proud of ourselves. That's why they built churches like this; otherwise they could've done it in tents. It's a testimony to us and our history and our heritage."

St. Albertushas been here since 1872, when about 300 immigrant families from Poland started the church in a small, wood-frame building with a single priest and his one-armed assistant, a veteran of the Polish Wars.

A new priest fresh from Poland, Father Dominic Kolasinski, came a few years later and rallied the parishioners to build a bigger church with a Gothic Prussian design, to remind them of the lavish, medieval churches they left behind in Europe.

Not long after the new church opened in 1885, the local bishop suddenly removed its charismatic priest and appointed a replacement. The congregation split into camps for and against the move. Kolasinski's supporters got so riled up by his ouster they blocked the new priest, Father Joseph Dombrowski, from celebrating Mass. When Christmas Day came a few weeks later the angry parishioners, fueled by holiday zeal, organized a protest march to the diocesan's office that got so out of hand a 24-year-old man got shot and killed by the mob.

The angry faction soon split off and followed their disgraced priest down the road, where he established a new church, Sweetest Heart of Mary, at Canfield and Russell, where it still stands today. It quickly had thousands of its own parishioners.

The two groups, so notorious around town they earned the names Kolasinskians and Dombrovites, kept at each other's throats for years, like gangs of Old Detroit. Another altercation between the two factions on Christmas Eve 1891 led to the killing of a 19-year-old man.

All this because a priest was replaced at a church.

Eventually, both groups settled down in their own districts. By the turn of the century, 2,000 families were attending St. Albertus, even as it shared a neighborhood with four other Polish Catholic churches. That's how densely populated Poletown was back then.

But as the parishioners started moving out of the city, the number of families belonging to St. Albertus was halved by the 1930s, and by the 1950s was down to 700. Its school closed for lack of enrollment in 1966. And once the church drew only handfuls of worshippers on Sundays, it was doomed. The last official Mass here was in 1990.

A handful of die-hards though, begged church officials to let them keep the place. They convinced the Archdiocese to sell them the entire property — church, rectory and school — for a mere $100, plus the costs of maintaining it as a museum.

"We didn't want it torn down," says Brian Baka, 65, one of the three remaining original members of the group that bought it. "My dad went to school here, my parents were married here, my dad's funeral was one of the last ones here. I couldn't let it go."

Step inside
St. Albertus and it's easy to see why the church generates such devotion from its caretakers.

The outside is relatively plain, but the interior is astonishing. Color and texture and detail shine out from every direction. It's psychedelic, bizarre, otherworldly; like some mystical experience expressed in architecture. A plaster St. Albertus looks down from above the main altar, surrounded by angels of various hierarchies floating alongside him, standing on platforms, leaning out from walls. There are flowers and candles everywhere, and little flames cast flickering shadows onto the kaleidoscope walls. The curved plaster ceilings are painted a soft blue and dotted with tiny gold stars, a fanciful depiction of the heavens beyond.

Mannequins stand near a sepulchre at the rear of the church, clothed in Polish folk costumes, clutching baskets of food, eternally heralding Easter. Large, painted sculptures of holy figures stare at you from all directions.

The most arresting displays are the altar-flanking, illuminated glass coffins containing life-size mannequins representing the corpses of St. Stanislaus and St. Hedwig, two Polish icons. They lie in stiff repose, faces pale, hands folded, eyes shut.

We welcome user discussion on our site, under the following guidelines:

To comment you must first create a profile and sign-in with a verified DISQUS account or social network ID. Sign up here.

Comments in violation of the rules will be denied, and repeat violators will be banned. Please help police the community by flagging offensive comments for our moderators to review. By posting a comment, you agree to our full terms and conditions. Click here to read terms and conditions.
comments powered by Disqus