Trending
Most Read
  • Here is why landlords could do well in Wayne County

    CNN has a message to all prospective landlords: Head to Wayne County! Occupancy and rental rates are increasing, the report says, creating an opportunity for serious returns on investments. In fact, after comparing the median sales price of homes to average monthly rents in nearly 1,600 counties, RealtyTrac found that Detroit’s Wayne County offers landlords the best return on their investment in the nation. Investors who buy homes in the metro area can expect a 30% gross annual return from rents. That’s triple the national average of 10%. RealtyTrac, an online real estate information company, says the county offers investors low prices for larger homes — with a median price of $45,000. “We’ve got some steals here,” said Rachel Saltmarshall, a real estate agent and immediate past president of the Detroit Association of Realtors, told CNN. “There’s a six-bedroom, 6,000 square-foot home in a historic district selling for $65,000.” For more, read the entire report here.

    The post Here is why landlords could do well in Wayne County appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • The Record Store Day Guide for metro Detroit

    This Saturday, audiophiles across the world will venture out to their favorite independent record stores in search of limited releases that quickly become collectors items. The third Saturday of April marks the fairly new international holiday Record Store Day. There are certainly dos and don’ts to know for RSD — like where to shop, and how to shop. That’s right, there is an etiquette to shopping on Record Store Day and violating that code makes you look like a real asshole. In my experience of celebrating Record Store Day, I’ve seen stores use a few different tactics as far as stocking the special releases. Some establishments will set up a table, somewhere in the store, where a few shoppers at a time can flip through records in a calm and contained manner. Other places will have a similar setup, with all the releases at a table, but shoppers ask the store employees for the releases they want. It’s like a record nerd stock exchange. This process gets loud, slightly confusing and incredibly annoying — this is where elbows start getting thrown. Then, there are places that put the releases on the shelves, usually categorized by size — twelve inches with the twelve inches, seven inches with the seven inches and […]

    The post The Record Store Day Guide for metro Detroit appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: DEMF 2014 canceled

    The Detroit Electronic Music Festival, which was supposed to be making a triumphant return this year, has been canceled. A statement on the website says that the festival will be back in 2015. Back in November, Ford Field hosted an announcement party for DEMF, where it was revealed that a new DEMF festival would take place at Campus Martius Park in Detroit over the July 4th weekend. “I’m proud to be involved in the biggest and best electronic music festival in the world,” said Juan Atkins. “The future’s here. This is techno scene.” Not the immediate future, apparently. The DEMF people claim that the M-1 rail construction is partially to blame for the cancellation/12-month-postponement. Read the full statement here. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: DEMF 2014 canceled appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Metro Times wins heavy at the SPJ Awards

    Despite a turbulent 2013 which saw Metro Times change owners, move buildings and change editors twice, we picked up eight awards at the Society of Professional Journalists Awards on Wednesday night. The big winner was Robert Nixon, design manager, who picked up a first place for “Feature Page Design (Class A)” for our Josh Malerman cover story, first for “Cover Design (Class A)” for our Halloween issue (alongside illustrator John Dunivant), and a second in that same category for our annual Lust issue. In the news categories, our esteemed former news editor and current contributing writer Curt Guyette won third in “General News Reporting” and third in “Best Consumer/Watchdog” – both Class A – for the Fairground Zero and Petcoke Series respectively. Music & Culture Editor Brett Callwood placed third for his Josh Malerman cover story in the “Best Personality Profile (Class A)” category, and former editor Bryan Gottlieb picked up a couple of Class C awards for “Editorial Writing” and “Headline Writing” (third and second, respectively). We were also pleased to learn that our investigative reporter Ryan Felton won first place and an honorable mention for work published while at the Oakland Press. The MT ship is steady now, […]

    The post Metro Times wins heavy at the SPJ Awards appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit’s grand bargain still needs Lansing’s approval

    In this week’s Metro Times we took a look at the state legislature’s role in Detroit’s ongoing bankruptcy — in particular, how it must approve a $350 million pledge for the so-called “grand bargain” to remain intact. And, with last night’s announcement of a significant deal between the city and Detroit’s pension boards and retiree groups, the ball is Lansing’s court now. The new deal, first reported by the Freep, would cut general employees monthly pension checks by 4.5 percent and eliminate their cost-of-living increases. Police and fire retirees would see no cuts to monthly checks, while their cost-of-living increases would be reduced from 2.25 percent to 1 percent. Under the original offer, police and fire retirees cuts were as high as 14 percent, with general retirees as high as 34 percent, that is, if the groups rejected the “grand bargain,” an $816 million proposal funded by foundations, the state, and the DIA to shore up pensions. The sweeter deal for pensions, though, it must be noted, entirely relies on the state legislature approving $350 million for Detroit’s bankruptcy.  And while this broke after Metro Times went to press, that was the focal point of this week’s News Hits column — so, it’s worth repeating: The […]

    The post Detroit’s grand bargain still needs Lansing’s approval appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: Local releases for Record Store Day on Saturday

    This Saturday, April 19, is Record Store Day, and there is plenty going on in metro Detroit and Michigan. Of special interest to us is Chiodos’ 7” single “R2ME2/Let Me Get You A Towel,” Mayer Hawthorne & Shintaro Skamoto’s 7” “Wine Glass Woman/In a Phantom,” Chuck Inglish & Action Bronson’s 7” “Game Time,” Chuck Inglish & Chance the Rapper’s 7” “Glam,” Chuck Inglish & Chromeo’s 7” “Legs,” Chuck Inglish, Mac Miller & Ab-Soul’s 7” “Easily,” James Williamson’s 7” “Open Up and Bleed/Gimme Some Skin,” Black Milk’s 12” “Glitches in the Break,” Mayer Hawthorne’s 10” “Jaded Inc.,” Wayne Kramer & the Lexington Arts Ensemble’s 12” “Lexington,” and best of all, Ray Parker Jr.’s 10” “Ghostbusters.” We wrote about James Williamson’s release this week. Go shop. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: Local releases for Record Store Day on Saturday appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

Calendar

Calendar

Search thousands of events in our database.

Restaurants

Search hundreds of restaurants in our database.

Nightlife

Search hundreds of clubs in our database.

MT on Twitter
MT on Facebook

Print Email

culture

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