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Heard on CultureShift

Historic Detroit Church’s Bell Tower, Famous After Shipwreck, Under Renovation

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Image credit: Mariner's Church of Detroit

Mariner’s Church is restoring its 1955 bell tower, famous for honoring victims of the “Edmund Fitzgerald” shipwreck.

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On November 10, 1975,  as news of the Edmund Fitzgerald shipwreck circulated, Rev. Richard Ingalls, pastor of Mariners’ Church of Detroit, rang the bell tower 29 times to commemorate the lives lost in the disaster.

It was a devastating event immortalized in Gordon Lightfoot’s 1976 ballad, “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” and added to the famed history of what we know today as The Brotherhood Bell Tower. 

Currently, the bell is among the latest Detroit treasures receiving the upgrade treatment. 

These women really wanted a church that was free an independent, but particularly they wanted a place for sailors to have a home.” - Ken Morse.

The church was founded in the 1842 by two sisters. 

These women really wanted a church that was free an independent, but particularly they wanted a place for sailors to have a home,” says Morse. 

Originally, the church was at the foot of Woodward Ave. but was later moved in the 1950’s to its current location to open up riverfront property. When they moved the church, they found a man-sized tunnel that is suspected to have been part of the Underground Railroad. 

The bell was donated in 1955. The three-story structure needed “serious repair” to both the structure and controls, says Morse. Restoration is expected to be completed in the next couple weeks. 

Click on the player above to hear CultureShift’s Amanda LeClaire interview Ken Morse of Mariner’s Church, about the churches history and the renovation.


Amanda LeClaire, Host, CultureShift

Amanda LeClaire is Host of CultureShift. She spent a few years in the southwest for Arizona Public Media.

amanda.leclaire@wdet.org Follow @amandalee_lec

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