The historic St. Stanislaus Catholic Church in Detroit narrowly escaped serious damage after a tenant in the old caretaker’s quarters lit a small fire in the attic to choke out vermin living in the attic.
The tenants lost control of the fire, which devoured the house and partially damaged the adjacent twin-towered church.
The fire broke out shortly after 3 p.m. Sunday, prompting fears that it would spread to the stately, century-old Baroque church that has been vacant but maintained for more than a year.
Flames tore through the old caretaker’s house, burning the ornate brick facade and choking out the lavish beaux-arts interior.
Another caretaker oversees the church to protect it from urban explorers, vandals and scrap metal thieves.
“St. Stannie” – as it was once nicknamed – sustained smoke and a little fire damage, firefighters said.
The church’s owner, Majid Shaukat of Rochester Hills, bought the church for $2,500 in September 2012 and is now asking for $69,000.
The parish, which also ran adjacent elementary and secondary schools, closed in 1989. Promise Land Missionary Baptist Church took over the properties but lost them to foreclosure last year.
The church seats more than 900 people and includes a choir stand, balcony, baptismal pool, two classrooms, a kitchen, office and stage.
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Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.