Hartland resident Barb Krueger, who co-authored Detroit’s Historic Places of Worship, spent more than a decade helping to research and write a book that features 37 churches in the Detroit area.
It was a labor of love for Krueger, who originally came on board the project as the stained-glass expert, but soon realized it would be a team effort for the three women who were determined to preserve some of Detroit’s rich, cultural history.
“Personally I don’t know in 25 years how many of these churches are still going to be standing," Barb Krueger said. “But they didn’t want this book to appear religious, because we aren’t talking about religion, it's about art and history and architecture."
The project was originally started by Dr. Dorothy Kostuch, an instructor at the College for Creative Studies, who would take her students on walking tours through Detroit, studying the historic churches around the city.
Co-author Marla Collum and Krueger both eventually heard of the project and came on board, helping to research, write and re-write for over a decade, visiting every church and scouring history books, libraries and the Internet for every small detail they could find.
Details, as Krueger explains, about the churches “that people wouldn’t know about” include stained glass windows that were moved from their original location or even the churches themselves that were moved or cut away to make room for wider roads or new buildings.
In 2005, when Kostuch passed away from cancer, Collum and Krueger took their project to the Wayne State Press, looking for guidance on how to finish their friend’s life work.
The result is a 256-page, hardcover book, which sells for $39.95 and includes 188 large colored photos detailing the work and culture of more than 30 Detroit churches.
“Most of these churches were begun by immigrants who came over between 1870 and 1900 to work in factories,” Krueger said. “They had their own little area of town so many of these churches epitomized what they knew and they brought with them that culture, that mentality.”
Although more than 80 churches were considered, the book features 37 churches based on three criteria:
- More than 50 years old
- Historically significant
Hoping to use their book as a way to draw more people back to Detroit, the churches featured in their book had to be viable so patrons could have the opportunity to visit and explore close to home rather than feeling as if they need to travel to Europe to experience great art and architecture.
“We’re just hoping that this will be just another cog in the revival wheel,” Krueger said.
The Detroit Historical Society offers church tours and all proceeds from the sale of the book will be donated to help support those walking tours.
“In the end,” Krueger said, “because Dr. Dorothy had passed away, we would have felt really awkward taking money since it was her idea in the first place to do all of this.”
Updated: Author Barb Krueger will signing copies of her book this Sunday, Dec. 2 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Brighton Barnes & Noble for the Saint Patrick's School in Brighton bookfair and fundraiser. For more information, contact Maria Kelly (810) 225-4670 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.