Building the Cathedral by the Very Reverend Samuel Simpson Marquis, D.D.

From the Cathedral publication

One Hundred Years
1824-1924

Building The Cathedral
by The Very Reverend Samuel Simpson Marquis, , D.D.

St. Paul’s  the mother Church in the Northwest, had always furnished the Diocese with a center of Church work and had been regarded as the Bishop’s Church. Especially was this true in the case of Bishop McCoskry, who for twenty- eight years was both Bishop of the Diocese and Rector of the Parish.During Dr. Clark’s long Rectorship of twenty-nine years) the idea of a Cathedral for the Diocese was slowly but surely crystallizing.The idea, however,did not take definite form until the election of Bishop Williams in t9o6, when the Rector, Wardens and Vestrymen of St. Paul’s Church, made the following tenders:

” First, we tender to you St.Paul’s Church to be known as the Bishop’s church,which shall be always at your disposal.”

“Second, Should it meet with your wishes to establish a Cathedral in this city and Diocese,we stand ready to place the Church in your hands, in order that you may take direction of its affairs as its official head.”

” Third, We see no reason, would it be so desired that the property of St. Paul’s Church  should not be transferred to the Diocese, to be held by its Trustees under the control of the Bishop and a Chapter.”

When the offer was presented to Bishop Williams he took the whole matter under the most careful consideration. At his request, representative of the Vestry visited him in Cleveland. His final decision was withheld for a year until all arrangements could be satisfactorily made. There were three conditions laid down: First,That St. Paul’s Parish should be made the Cathedral only on condition that there should be an amalgamation of the two congregations of St. Joseph’s and St. Paul’s,and that the Vestry of the new St. Paul’s should be composed of an equal number of men from both parishes: second, that there should be a contribution of $5,000.00 toward the purchase of a lot for the new parish of St. Joseph’s to be established in the north end of the city, out Woodward Avenue; and third, that the call to the Rev. Samuel S. Marquis, D.D., to be the Rector and Dean of the new St. Paul’s should be given by the united parishes.  As a result of these overtures, the following covenants were entered into in January,1907 between the Bishop of the Diocese and the new St.Paul’s authorities:

1  The Cathedral may not have Rented Pews ,but all sittings must be free to all who care to attend services. According to this condition, the maintenance of the Cathedral was to be cared for by the voluntary offerings and subscriptions of the congregation.
2  The Bishop shall have the right to nominate the Dean, and the Wardens and Vestry to elect from such names as the Bishop shall nominate.
3  The Bishop shall have the right to the Pulpit of the Cathedral, where he may preach whenever he so desires.  The Cathedral’s Pulpit is essentially the Bishop’s Pulpit.
4. The Bishop shall have his seat or throne within the Choir or Chancel of the Cathedral, and by virtue of his office he shall establish the Ritual of the Cathedral Service, celebrate the Holy Communion and be officially in charge of the Cathedral Ceremonial.
5  The Bishop may use the Cathedral for such additional and extraordinary services and functions as he may arrange,and gather the Clergy for Ordinations or Council or Convention when he may deem it advisable. No list of special preachers  at the Cathedral shall be determined upon unless it is first approved by the Bishop.
6   The Bishop will make the Cathedral the home or Parish Church of himself  and family.

The bringing together of the two existing parallel groups of organizations in which there were duplicate officers for every post was a matter of great delicacy and presented difficulties which might have wrecked the whole project. But the fine, generous, self-effacing spirit of the leaders and people of both St. Joseph’s and St. Paul’s in the matter of merging and making single organizations where before there had been two groups, assured the success of the whole undertaking. What seemed the most difficult problem, in reality became the easiest.  The same   can be said of the fine, generous  spirit of the Grace Church congregation when later they merged with the Cathedral.  Once the amalgamation had been accomplished, it was found that the seating capacity of the Eaton Memorial Chapel was inadequate.  It was a rather disturbing situation when many of the old families came to Church in their carriages and were not able to enter because of the overcrowded condition of the Chapel. This had a great deal to do with the planning for the immediate erection of the new building. Some years before this, plans had been worked out by Dr. Clark for a new Church. Mr. George D. Mason, a member of the parish and a local architect, had been engaged and architectural drawings were well in hand for a new building, but the change from parish to Cathedral made it seem advisable to reconsider the plans as already worked out during Dr. Clark’s  rectorship.  After considerable study and many conferences upon the matter in which Mr. Mason participated, it was finally deemed best to secure Dr. Ralph Adams Cram, as the architect of the Cathedral. This was done with the consent and hearty co- operation of Mr. Mason himself, who had the honor and pleasure  of making the first contribution toward the new building, which was in the nature of the waiving of architectural fees, amounting to several hundred dollars then due him for previous plans of the Church building. The fine spirit of George Mason and his advice and helpfulness in the capacity of Construction Architect, associated with Dr. Cram, was of inestimable value during the period of construction of the Cathedral and later on during the remodeling of the Cathedral House.

In January, 1908. the firm of Cram, Goodhue & Ferguson of Boston and New York, was engaged as architects to construct a building suitable and appropriate as a Cathedral for the Diocese.    In July of the same year contracts were let to the Albert A. Albrecht Company and the Vinton Company for the construction work itself. When building operations were commenced the Dean called the workmen into the Chapel and told them that above everything else the fabric of the church should be an honest piece of work. It should be only what it pretended to be, stone-stone, brick- brick. There should be no imitations in it. This spirit took hold of the workmen,and they produced a fine, honest piece of work, and the building is what it seems to be.  From the very beginning, the question of raising sufficient funds to carry on the project presented itself. It was felt by the vestry that it would be unwise to encumber the parish with a large debt without sufficient pledges in hand to insure the continuance of the work. For this reason a resolution was passed by the vestry to the effect that the accrued debt should at no time be allowed to exceed $250,000.00 during the building of the Cathedral. The work progressed as rapidly as the means were supplied for carrying it on. When funds in hand were exhausted, building operations were suspended, a financial campaign was begun and money raised to carry  on the work.    It required a period of three years in which to complete the building. A structure which today would cost three-quarters of a million’ was erected for $200,00.00
The response of our people was both generous and universal, and the Cathedral stands as a living monument to the people of the united parishes. Only one gift toward the work was recorded from anyone outside of the parish, that of Mr. Amie Wright, of Alma, $5,000.00  There were a number of gifts of large amounts, but perhaps the largest amount in point of effort and sacrifice that went into it was that of a  boy of eight years of age,who contributed something like $10.00 toward the building fund.  The son of a widow, this lad raised the money for his gift by arising at 5:00 o’clock in the morning and distributing papers.
During the whole period that the Cathedral was under construction, the vestry gave generously in their gifts of time and means.    Special recognition should be given lo the Chairman of the Building Committee, Mr. James T. Whitehead. With infinite care and energy Mr. Whitehead daily supervised the work, and his good judgment in the letting of contracts was the means of effecting considerable saving to the parish.  In the campaigns for raising money, which were repeatedly put on, he was invaluable. In the face of great difficulties he was always ready to go on.

In 1908 shortly after construction had begun, the rector,vestry and congregation of Grace Church opened negotiations looking toward a merger with the Cathedral. After due consideration, this further merger was happily effected in 1909, and the Reverend John McCarroll, M.D., the rector of Grace Church, became the Senior Canon in residence of the Cathedral. At the time of the coming of Grace Church to the Cathedral, building operations had been suspended for a brief period owing to a lack of funds, and it was thought that it might be necessary to curtail the original plans for the clerestory and a permanent roof, and erect instead a temporary covering at the base of the present clerestory. The assistance given by Grace Church people, together with the funds realized from the sale of their property, and additional contributions from the united parishes of St. Joseph’s and St. Paul’s made it possible to complete the building at a much earlier date than anticipated. As a fitting recognition of this merger, the Chapel in the Cathedral was named Grace Chapel,and the beautiful marble altar of Grace Church, the gift of the Lightner family, was installed, together with the Tefft-Barbour Memorial Window and the Rose Window.

Many memorials in the nature of furniture and decorations were also completed and installed in the new building, chief of which were the Eaton Memorial Chancel Window, the Pulpit, Lectern, Clergy and Choir Stalls, the West Rose Window and the Narthex Screen.The cornerstone of the Cathedral was laid in 1908by Bishop Williams, assisted by a large company of the clergy of the Diocese. The Cathedral was formally dedicated on May I7th, I911 by Bishop Williams,while the preacher was the Right Reverend William Lawrence, D.D., Bishop of Massachusetts. The first service held in the Cathedral was on February 7th, 1911 and, it is noteworthy, that it was on the felicitous occasion of the Fifth Anniversary of Bishop Williams’ Consecration as the Bishop of Michigan. The first Sunday service in celebration of the completion of the Cathedral occurred on Palm Sunday, April 9th, 1911. Following the completion of the Cathedral, the need for a Cathedral House became apparent.Mr. Theodore H. Eaton had erected in I895, as a tribute to the memory of his mother, the Memorial Chapel,in which the congregation had worshiped previous to the building of the Cathedral and during its erection. As it was intended to use this building as a Parish House,it was never consecrated.  Its conversion into what has since become known as the “Cathedral House” was now taken in hand under the direction of Mr. George D.Mason, architect.  Again the interest and generosity of the congregation made the undertaking easy of accomplishment. Among those who gave generous financial assistance in the remodeling of the building and the equipment of the gymnasium was Mr. Henry Ford, at that time a member of the Parish and greatly interested in furnishing the young people with adequate facilities for their work and recreation.

Thus the Cathedral was built and the Cathedral House furnished. A long cherished dream was realized,and a noble and beautiful temple dedicated to the worship of God was erected in the midst of our city. Much still remained to be done which would find accomplishment in future years. The generosity of the congregation had carried the greater part of the burden, although a mortgage of some $35,000.00 had been placed upon the property in order to insure its ultimate completion so that it could be used. Accordingly the Service of Dedication only could be given and its Consecration was delayed for some years. It was not possible to erect the great central tower which, from the exterior, is the key to the whole structure and was planned from the beginning. Abundant opportunity was given for the giving and placing of appropriate memorials, especially of stained glass and furnishings which from time-to time might be offered by generous donors. Through- out it all-Dr. Ralph Adams Cram has been retained as the architect and has kept a guiding hand upon its development. The Cathedral was built honestly, beautifully, enduringly-  a monument to the spirit of Christianity in Gothic Architecture.