Friday, March 26, 2010

Visiting an old church and the site of a hockey cathedral

One of the more interesting ways to see Detroit is to go downtown, pick a "spoke", and start driving. By "spoke", we're referring to the main streets that spray from downtown – Woodward, Gratiot, Michigan, Grand River, Fort, or Jefferson (in either direction). Perhaps not a great night-time activity, but it seemed a harmless way to kill a rainy lunch hour last week.

I chose Grand River with two destinations in mind. I was looking for what I assumed was a little church out on Trumbull. And a little further out, I wanted see what I assumed was an historical marker of a famous arena I never saw. I found neither.

The Pilgrim Church/I Am My Brother's Keeper Ministries was the subject of the most recent Mitch Albom book "Have A Little Faith", and after reading the book, I imagined it to be a small chapel tucked somewhere in one of Detroit's quiet, abandoned neighborhoods. It's not. Just a block off Grand River (at Trumbull and Brainard) the church is a once-beautiful old building that's nearly as run down as every other building that neighbors it. Not a great part of town, but for one weekend last winter, they celebrated the repairing of the roof that happened as a result of the "Have A Little Faith".

Further out Grand River, near where I-94 cuts across, I went looking for the site of the former Olympia Stadium. The Red Wings' old barn was ripped down back in the '80s, and though I had read that the U.S. National Guard's Olympia Armory now stands where the Olympia once did, I figured there was a nice monument out front marking the site. Nope. Nothing. I read later that there is a marker inside the Armory, but there isn't anything outside, which seems odd. No doubt it's a funding issue. Maybe Mitch needs to write a book about it.