Inside The Church of the Most Holy Redeemer

August 13, 2020

This week we delve into the Pewabic tile work commissioned for The Church of the Most Holy Redeemer in Detroit, Michigan. This massive edifice was built in 1921 and dedicated in 1923. It was once estimated to be the largest Roman Catholic parish in North America.

Exterior of The Church of The Most Holy Redeemer 

Pewabic tile can be found on the vestry floor, the aisleways, and on the floor of the main altar of the interior. The exterior facade features two lunettes above the doorway–– depicting two angels in prayer with mosaic medallion insets. 

Pewabic Co-Founder Mary Chase Perry Stratton writes: “At the time we were executing the library work, we were also making two lunette panels for the exterior of the church of the Holy Redeemer, under the direct supervision of Walter Meier, architect, who was also one of our personal friends.”

Fun Fact: the lunettes from this installation were being crafted at the same time as the Pewabic mosaic tiles for the Detroit Public Library

The words “Gloria in Excelsis” are set in a border of pineapples and annunciation lilies above this lunette are meant to symbolize the birth of Christ. Our 4”x6” Pineapple Tile reminds us of the border along these ambitious tile pieces.

Terra cotta sculpted tile details

Pewabic’s devotional collection of decorative tiles pay tribute to the extensive tile work commissioned in various parishes, cathedrals, churches and basilicas. Most notably, The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception located in Washington, D.C.

 Tile work on interior floors of The Church of The Most Holy Redeemer

Let’s take a closer look at the interior floor installations. Terra cotta, unglazed tile is accented with glazed units modeled to depict symbolic eccelesiastical forms. The Four Evangelists: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are represented by their symbolic forms in these intricate, sculpted tiles.

Four Evangelists tile details (left) and unglazed Pewabic tile on interior floors (right) 

This was a huge project for the pottery in 1922. Co-Founder Mary Chase Perry Stratton charged over $12,000 for this project which equates to around $200,000 in 2020.

Exterior with lunette above doorway (left) and Pewabic tile work surrounding interior altar (right) 

Our archives team has been working to catalog historic records, images, and correspondences regarding Pewabic tile installations throughout the city and beyond. Do you have a personal connection to The Church of the Most Holy Redeemer? Would you like to hear more about a particular Pewabic piece or installation? We encourage you to reach out through the comments section, or on our social channels (@Pewabic) as we continue to share highlights of Pewabic’s past and present.

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