350, Huron Church Road, City of Windsor, Ontario, N9B, Canada
Links and documents
1842/01/01 to 1874/01/01
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
Assumption Church is a majestic brick church built in the Gothic Revival style. It is the fourth church building to serve the oldest continuously operating Roman Catholic parish in Ontario. Located on 2.4 hectares of land in the historic Sandwich area of west Windsor, Assumption Church is a local landmark.
Assumption Church is recognized for its heritage value by the City of Windsor, Bylaw 5893, 1978. In addition, an Ontario Heritage Foundation easement covers the church exterior, sacristy, Rosary Chapel, the area in front of the church and the “magnificent interior.”
A site of great symbolic importance, Assumption Church has historical and spiritual value as a major edifice. It was built for the "Church of Rome in Upper Canada" in the 1800s to serve Our Lady of the Assumption Parish, the oldest continuously operating Roman Catholic parish in Ontario.
The parish began in 1728 as “The Mission of Our Lady of the Assumption among the Hurons of Detroit” and was moved to its present location, on the south shore of the Detroit River, in 1747. Here, it played a central role in the development of the community and the Catholic religion. Father Pierre Potier, a prominent Jesuit missionary, became the first pastor of Assumption Parish in 1767, ministering to both the Hurons and French-Canadian settlers in the region. The present-day church is situated on property that was donated by the Huron nation in 1782. Building of the fourth church began in 1842 and was completed in 1845, to accommodate the increasing number of settlers moving to the area. In 1870, the Basilian Fathers assumed charge of the parish and the nearby Assumption College.
Executed with remarkable sophistication and stylistic integrity, this majestic church is an area landmark and an important architectural antecedent to the Gothic Revival period of 1840. Designed by architect Robert Thomas Elliott of Detroit in 1834, it was built after his death by Jacques Reaume, master mason, and Hugh Moffat, contractor. The original church structure now forms the nave of the current church. The chancel and tower were added in 1874, and Rosary Chapel was erected in 1907, to replace the original sacristy and retreat chapel.
Constructed of small bricks with limestone trim, it features buttresses, small turrets, a graceful spire, brilliant stained glass windows dating from 1874 to 1882 and fine interior features. The pulpit (1793) and a wooden sculpture are from the Huron mission church and are rare surviving examples of indigenous French-Canadian carvings in Ontario. The surviving ornately decorated interior reflects the continuous high regard of the parishioners for their heritage and religious beliefs.
Sources: Building Analysis Form, November 1997; City of Windsor Bylaw 5893, 1978; and City of Windsor Heritage Planner's files.
Key character defining elements that express the heritage value include its:
- continuous use as a Roman Catholic parish
- prominent siting on 2.4 hectares of land at a major intersection (University Avenue and Huron Church Road) in Windsor
- size, massing and impressive Gothic Revival design elements
- proximity to other significant heritage properties in the historic former town of Sandwich.
- stylistic integrity and quality of workmanship
- age, with the nave dating from 1842-45 and the tower and sanctuary from 1874
- buttresses, small turrets, and graceful spire
- small brick construction with limestone trim
- bronze doors
- stained glass windows dating from 1874 to 1882
- 1793 pulpit and a wooden sculpture from the Huron mission church
- fine paintings such as the Stations of the Cross (1883)
- stone altar (1887) imported from France and statues from the late 1800s
- vaulted ceiling with carved angels
- polished wood of the altar and choir areas
- floor tiles adorned with crosses and fleur-de-lis, reflecting the French influence
- communion rail of carved Italian marble.
Local Governments (ON)
Ontario Heritage Act
Municipal Heritage Designation (Part IV)
Theme - Category and Type
- Building Social and Community Life
- Religious Institutions
Function - Category and Type
- Religion, Ritual and Funeral
- Religious Facility or Place of Worship
Architect / Designer
Robert Thomas Elliott
Location of Supporting Documentation
Office of Heritage Planner, City of Windsor
Cross-Reference to Collection