A historical marker placed by the St. Clair Shores Historical Commission is on the grounds of the former St. Gertrude Catholic Church.

A historical marker placed by the St. Clair Shores Historical Commission is on the grounds of the former St. Gertrude Catholic Church.

Photo by Kristyne E. Demske


Former site of historic church recognized in St. Clair Shores

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published January 30, 2018

 The former church property on Jefferson Avenue has now been developed as Lakeshore Senior Living.

The former church property on Jefferson Avenue has now been developed as Lakeshore Senior Living.

Photo by Kristyne E. Demske

ST. CLAIR SHORES — With a history dating back to the early 19th century, the St. Clair Shores Historical Commission has recognized the site of the former St. Gertrude Catholic Church with a historical marker.

“We felt it was important that we would preserve its legacy by having a city historical marker basically telling the story of St. Gertrude parish, the school and church,” Historical Commission Chairperson Jerry Sielagoski said. “St. Gertrude can trace its roots back to the early 19th century. The original log church, a little mission church dedicated to St. Felicity, was built along the shores of Lake St. Clair near Shook Road.”

Around 1856, however, the lake levels rose and the church sank into the lake. It was at that time that the church was relocated to property purchased from the Vernier family at the location on Jefferson Avenue north of Martin Road and renamed St. Gertrude, he said. 

A white wood and stone church was constructed in 1897 and served the area until 1968. A new church and rectory were dedicated in 1969, and the church closed its doors in 2014 after combining with St. Germaine Catholic Church to form Our Lady of Hope Parish.

The church has since been torn down, and a senior living facility, Lakeshore Senior Living, has now been constructed and opened in its place.

“It has a very long history in that area and, given that ... the site basically was going to be repurposed, we wanted to make sure that we commemorated what was there and preserved its legacy,” Sielagoski said. “It’s a big part of the local history here in St. Clair Shores.”

This is the fourth historical marker placed in the city by the commission to mark the history of St. Clair Shores. More are planned for the coming year, with the next in March at the Roy O’Brien Ford dealership.

“It’s a nice way of, hopefully, recognizing the history of the church at that location,” Councilwoman Candice Rusie said at the Jan. 22 City Council meeting.