Forgotten Detroit
St. Cyrils
St Cyril


In 1918 Detroit's first Slovak parish opened in a modest brick church at Heintz and Foster Streets. It was named SS. Cyril and Methodius to honor the two patron saints of the Eastern European Slavs . As more Slovaks moved to the area the parish's needs increased thus calling for the construction a larger facility. The oversight of this task was left to Father Joseph Zalibera, who would be pastor of St. Cyril for 39 years.

Zalibera required each member of the parish to "donate" a given amount based on their means. However, most members gave considerably more then this requirement. This generosity on part of the parishioners helps account for the building's elaborate design and decoration. On November 1st 1926 the first mass was celebrated in the basement cafeteria and 300 students were enrolled in the elementary school while work continued on the church itself. The main church building would not be completed until Christmas Eve Mass in 1929.

The completed building unified the elementary school and church as one massive structure. The Byzantine sanctuary occupied the center of the building while a four-story school wrapped around it. Below the sanctuary a massive gymnasium/auditorium completed the facility.

For over 40 years all went well and the parish continued to improve upon the church. A pipe organ was installed in 1936 and Centerline Street, on which the church sat was renamed St. Cyril Street. In 1945 work began on a parish high school. In the 1960's the sanctuary received a decorative update which included painting over the elaborate ceiling stencil-work with a sky blue paint.

The parish's fortunes turned in the 1970's. Both the elementary and high school closed in 1971. Migration to the suburbs was taking its toll. The Archdiocese recognized the need for a move and gave the ok for St. Cyril to relocate. In 1982 the parish purchased property in Sterling Heights far off on Ryan and Eighteen Mile Roads. The new church, an unimpressive structure when compared to its predecessor opened in 1988 and the last service at St. Cyril was held that December.

The old St. Cyril would hold on for a few more years. A Baptist congregation made use of the sanctuary until the late 1990's. By 2000 all of the parish buildings had been abandoned and were quickly "relieved" of their decorative ornament. By this time the building's fate had already been sealed. Gradually the depopulated neighborhood was being cleared for an industrial park. Between February and May of 2003 it was finally the ruins of the St. Cyril and Methodius date with the wreaking ball.

For more see this wonderful site:

Make Straight the Path. Archdiocese of Detroit. Detroit, 2001.

Copyright 1999-2004, David Kohrman

Last updated on April 29, 2004