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Ste. Anne de Detroit – A Photographer’s Vision

March 30, 2017

“I never weary of great churches. It is my favorite kind of mountain scenery. Mankind was never so happily inspired as when it made a cathedral.”  ~ Robert Louis Stevenson

Scenic photography comes in all shapes and sizes. While I typically shoot outdoor landscapes, I recently had the opportunity to visit one of Detroit’s most iconic and historic churches – Ste. Anne de Detroit Catholic Church, located at 1000 Ste. Anne Street, at Howard.


Ste. Anne de Detroit

Before I go any further, I have to give a shout out to Karrie Posio and Timothy Griffin of  “Creative Vision Photography Meet-Ups”, who organized the photography tour.  It was a great experience, although at times quite challenging with the varying light conditions and the large group of photographers!

The first thing one notices upon approaching the church is its twin spires:


The view upon entering the cathedral from the foyer is breathtaking:


The oldest stained glass in the city can be found in Ste. Anne’s upper windows:



Stained glass above the main altar:


A different perspective:


View from front of church looking toward rear of church:

Ste.Anne_2017-128During the photography tour, I learned that the parish of Ste. Anne de Detroit was founded on July 26, 1701, Ste. Anne’s Feast Day, honoring the patron of France,  mother of Mary and grandmother of Jesus, making it the second oldest continuously operating Roman Catholic parish in the United States.  I also learned that the beautiful Classical Revival and Late Gothic Revival architectural building we were photographing, near the Ambassador Bridge and several blocks from the Detroit River, was not the original parish church, but is actually the eighth building parishioners called home.

French explorer Antoine Laument de La Mothe Cadillac, a couple of priests and a group of French settlers landed on the bank of the Detroit River on July 24, 1701.  Two days later, Ste. Anne’s Feast Day, construction of the first church (also the first building) at Fort Pontchartrain du Detroit began near what is now Jefferson and Griswold Streets.  The original church building was destroyed by a fire which swept through the settlement in 1703.  A new building was erected in 1704, still within the confines of the fort palisade.  A larger church was then built outside the fort in 1708-09, but it was torn down by the settlers of Fort Pontchartrain themselves, who had been under attack by Native Americans and feared the building outside the fort would be used as cover by their attackers.  For several years thereafter, the parish used a make-shift building within the Fort and it is believed another church was built between 1722 and 1754.

The sixth Ste. Anne’s Church building was built at the Fort in 1755 under the direction of its newest priest, Father Simple Bocquet, who then served the parish for 27 years.  In 1805, while Father Gabriel Richard was serving the parish (1802-8132), the church was again destroyed in an accidental fire which also destroyed most of Detroit.  A new stone church was built for the parish, on Bates Street, outside the grounds of the Fort but still near the river between 1818 and 1828.

The cornerstone of the eighth and present church, designed by Leon Coquard and built at what was then 19th Street and Howard (now Ste. Anne Street and Howard near the Ambassador Bridge), was laid in 1886.  Many artifacts from the 1818 church can be found the current church including the 1818 cornerstone, the main altar and communion rail, the “Beaubien Bell” and the statue of Ste. Anne and her daughter Mary.

One of the confessionals:


A side alter:


More few more interesting points of view:


Back outside:


As I mentioned, Ste. Anne de Detroit is near the Ambassador Bridge:

Ste.Anne_2017-131I feel it important to mention that most of my interior photographs were shot using a method called “bracketing”.  It was really the only way to try to get a balance between the darkened interior that the bright window light.  I used my Canon 60D and Tamron 10-24 wide angle lens for most of the shots, but also used my Canon Rebel XTi, Canon 50mm prime lens and Canon 24-70 zoom lens.  No flash was used.

After shooting the interior for almost 1 1/2 hours, a group of us enjoyed lunch at Ste. Anne’s “Friday Fish Fry”, which was quite delicious.  It seemed appropriate to give back to the church by attending the fish fry.  All of my exterior shots were made after lunch.

I hope to get back to Ste. Anne’s for the more formal tour and to take photos of some of the many things I missed on this first visit.  So stay tuned!

#detroit #steannechurch #puredetroit #puremichigan #ilovedetroit #detroitpride #michiganpride #mittenpride #depictthed #catholicchurch #steannededetroit #southwestdetroit #romancatholicchurch #michigan





  1. Alice A Maier permalink

    Lovely photos Linda! It’s been a very long time since I visited this church – it’s so beautiful! Thanks for sharing these awe inspiring photos!

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