The web site for Basilica of St. Adalbert (of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids) tells a little of the history of this ornate church that has always fascinated me as I’ve driven past it on the freeway going west out of Grand Rapids.
The Saint Adalbert Aid Society was formed in 1872. At that time the purpose of the fraternal aid societies that sprang up in the primarily ethnic areas of the city, was to assist new immigrants in settling in the area, finding housing, and employment. With the help of the Saint Adalbert Aid Society, and on the initiative of the many Polish people of this area, two lots were purchased in 1880 at the corner of Fourth Street and Davis Avenue, NW, and in June of 1881 construction of a small wooden church was begun. Thus, St. Adalbert Parish was soon established. In 1891 the original church was enlarged to accommodate the every growing Polish population.
In early July of 1907, work began on the present church building. The cornerstone was laid on August 18, 1907, and the building was completed in late spring of 1913 for a total cost of about $150,000, including all of its furnishings.
The basilica is one of a few Minor Basilica in the US and the only church of this rank in Michigan. Wikipedia has more about Polish Cathedrals in America and says that these ornate churches were built by Polish Catholics in rememberance of the glory days of the Polish Commonwealth in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
Be sure to check Rudy’s shot out background bigalicious and see more pics in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids, Michigan group on Flickr.