Global True Lithuania Encyclopedia of Lithuanian heritage worldwide

Detroit, Michigan

Like other industrial cities of the USA, Detroit attracted a Lithuanian community well before World War II and even World War I. Detroit Lithuanians worked at the automobile factories of what was the world automobile manufacturing capital. It still is the home to Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler. During the 1930 census, 4879 Lithuanians lived in Detroit.

The old Lithuanian district of Detroit

For most of the 20th century, Lithuanian life in Detroit centered in the area southwest of downtown, today's Mexicantown, around the key institutions of St. Anthony Roman Catholic Church and the Lithuanian Hall.

St. Anthony Roman Catholic Lithuanian Church was built in 1920 in Southwest Detroit at 1750 25th Street. The massive brick building had two floors. The main church was on the second floor, while the first (ground) floor once housed a Lithuanian school. Later it was turned into a meeting hall, a small Lithuanian museum and a chapel where ordinary Sunday Mass was held. The diminishing parish no longer needed a main upper church; the elderly found it hard to climb the stairs. The church was closed in 2013 and now serves as a cultural center for modern day immigrants.

St. Anthony Lithuanian church. The building to the left is Lithuanian Hall. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

A nicely renovated building on the opposite side of W Vernor Highway still bears the words Lithuanian Hall on its facade and there are some Lithuanian memorabilia surviving inside. Also surviving are the architectural elements such as the former ticket booth that would have sold to sell tickets for the events in the hall above, the stage and more. Redeveloped by the same non-profit real estate developer as St. Anthony church, the hall was transformed into its offices but the heritage was conserved well.

Detroit Lithuanian Hall

Detroit Lithuanian Hall

Originally the hall had been built in 1921 by the leftist Lithuanians who did not attend the church (while for the religious, the church doubled as a secular club and activity hub, the non-religious needed their separate institution for that). At least some of the members were communists, and the new owners discovered Lithuanian communist materials during renovation.

Main Hall now serves as an open office space. At one of the walls there is Lithuanian memorabilia

Main Hall now serves as an open office space. On one of the walls there is Lithuanian memorabilia.

It can only be assumed that, back then, Vernor Highway served as a frontline between the two opposing groups of Lithuanians: the religious majority and the anti-religious minority. With the popularity of leftist beliefs declining among Lithuanians, the Lithuanian Hall closed and was later used for community celebrations (holidays, weddings) by the parish.

St. Anthony Lithuanian Chruch (left) and the Lithuanian Hall (right)

St. Anthony Lithuanian Chruch (left) and the Lithuanian Hall (right)

Next to the Hall, there is Val Bauza Funeral Home, also an institution in the area.

However, like all over Detroit, some buildings are now abandoned or burned down. Detroit population more than halved after the 1967 racial riots and the city is now 85% Black (African-American). Most Whites, including Lithuanians, moved to the suburbs. The area around St. Anthony church is now, however, dominated by Hispanics and is known as Mexicantown. It is claimed by Lithuanians to be safer than the average Detroit area. While most Lithuanians moved to the suburbs, Mexicantown still has the largest percentage of Lithuanians in the Detroit city. Currently, it is the Hispanic population that the former St. Anthony church is serving the most, as the first floor is now taken by a charitable institution that teaches the recent immigrants English for free. At one point, merely some 30% of the district's buildings were being used, while now this percentage rose to 80% thanks to redevelopment by the same non-profit.

Val Bauza (Lithuanian name) Funeral Home. The house was constructed in 1930 when the city and the Lithuanian district were still thriving. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

St. Anthony parish was at its peak immediately after World War 2 when a large number of the Lithuanian intellectual elite emigrated to the USA fearing Soviet persecutions. In these days, the church was too small for the congregation and many people had to participate in the Mass from outside the building. In some 1985, the church was damaged by fire but repaired afterward. Until 2009, the daily mass was still celebrated, twice daily on Sundays. However, in 2009, the priest retired and only a single weekly Lithuanian Sunday mass remained. There was no mass in any other language, therefore the building became scarcely used. In 2011, the bishop of Detroit decided to abolish the parish, which was done in 2013 as the parish was officially merged into the Divine Providence Lithuanian parish (see below).

St. Anthony Lithuanian Church main hall (2nd floor) interior as it looked before closure (2012). Currently, it is similar, but the religious and Lithuanian items, as well as pews, have been removed, and the premises are used for exercise classes and are available for rent for special events. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

West of St. Anthony church, Detroit also had St. Peter Lithuanian church. The building, opened in 1921 and closed in 1995, has no Lithuanian details, although a publically-funded community center (All Saints Neighborhood Center) operating there since 1997, put up some historical plaques in the first room beyond the entrance. The church is wooden although during its late Lithuanian era its facade used to be covered in bricks. However, the original exterior has been restored now. In fact, the modest building was initially planned to be temporary but the parish never grew enough to build its own "permanent" and larger building. Like St. Anthony's, the church has a basement (dug by parishioner's hands) where Lithuanian used to meet after the mass. Church statues and furniture have been donated to Lithuania. So was a large Lithuanian style wayside cross that used to stand in front of the church.

St. Peter Lithuanian church of Detroit

St. Peter Lithuanian Church of Detroit

Lithuanian memorabilia in the foyer of the St. Peter Lithuanian church

Lithuanian memorabilia in the foyer of the St. Peter Lithuanian Church

In this same area Darius and Girėnas Club was located. Operated mostly by the DPs (Lithuanians who fled the Soviet Genocide), it was established in 1962 and closed in 1996 as the white flight has emptied Lithuanian neighborhoods. Unlike the Lithuanian Hall near St, Anthony church, however, nothing visibly Lithuanian remained on this building as it had not been built by Lithuanians. Instead, Lithuanians acquired a 1914 Czech building, hence it is usually known as the "Bohemian National Home", and this name is on the facade bas-relief. After Lithuanians sold the building, it was used as a concert hall in an increasingly dilapidated district, with many surrounding homes blighted. Eventually, it was abandoned, by bought for redevelopment in 2010s.

Bohemian National Home (Darius and Girėnas Club)

Bohemian National Home (Darius and Girėnas Club)

Southfield Divine Providence Lithuanian complex

The current Detroit's Lithuanian church is Divine Providence located in the suburb of Southfield (255335 West 9 Mile Road). In fact, it is not simply a church but rather a complex of buildings, including a large events hall, a Lithuanian cultural center, a social hall, a small parish museum, a Lithuanian Saturday school, and several monuments. Many Lithuanian organizations use this venue for their activities, among them a folk dance group, a sports club, boy and girl scouts, Daughters of Lithuania, etc.

Divine Providence Lithuanian church of Southfield

Divine Providence Lithuanian Church of Southfield

The complex was designed and built in 1972 by Lithuanian-Canadian architect Alfredas Kulpa-Kulpavičius. Initial designs were even more elaborate but the diocese-imposed costs-cap required the Lithuanian community to prioritize function over details. Therefore, the church lacks the "ethnic grandeur" of most other big-city post-WW2 Lithuanian churches but it still has many Lithuanian details inside. Among those are stained glass windows by the famous designer Vytautas K. Jonynas and wooden relief pieces by Jurgis Daugvila. Among the stained-glass windows, the most impressive is the one with St. Casimir and Vytis, while the wooden carvings depict the Hill of Crosses of Šiauliai and Blessed Jurgis Matulaitis.

Divine Providence church interior

Divine Providence Church interior

Woodcarving inside the Divine Providence church

Woodcarving inside the Divine Providence Church

Stained glass window by V.K. Jonynas

Stained glass window by V.K. Jonynas with patriotic motives, such as Lithuanian coat of arms

The complex of buildings is located in a spacious wooded area. Three Lithuanian monuments are close to the church: Jurgis Jurgutis memorial (who was the first honorary consul of Lithuania in Michigan), a traditional cross with a metal sun and the oldest one - statue of Jesus that had been relocated from the previous locations of the parish.

Sculpture dedicated to the consul of Lithuania Jurgutis

Sculpture dedicated to the consul of Lithuania Jurgutis

Lithuanian cross at the Divine Providence church

Lithuanian cross at the Divine Providence Church

Although the church and the other buildings of the complex have been built in 1972, the parish is much older than that. Unlike St. Anthony, the Divine Providence church has moved together with its community (two times). Its roots are in the St. George church within Detroit City limits (constructed in 1908).

The site of the St. George Lithuanian church

The site of the St. George Lithuanian Church, one time at the northeast corner of Westminster and Cardoni Streets.

In 1949, a new Divine Providence church was constructed further from the center and Lithuanians moved there. During the 1960s highway construction program, plans caused both churches to be demolished to make way for more convenient city commutes.

The site of the first Divine Providence Lithuanian church

The site of the first Divine Providence Lithuanian Church, at one time located on Schaefer Road near Grand River Avenue.

At the time, the bishop of Detroit did not want the continued existence of the ethnically Lithuanian parish, seeing ethnic parishes as slowly disintegrating (a fate then already suffered by numerous Polish parishes of Detroit). After lengthy discussions with Detroit Lithuanians, however, the bishop conceded that Divine Providence Parish would retain its ethnic status, with the stipulation that its membership would consist of Lithuanians only and its financial support would depend entirely on its parishioners. Lithuanians thus collected the necessary funds to build and support a new Divine Providence Church in Southfield.

Lithuanians who moved into suburbs and ceased visiting the city typically would also leave the then-remaining Detroit Lithuanian parishes (St. Anthony and St. Peter) and join the Southfield one. That's why the "urban parishes" had few parishioners and eventually closed, with only the Divine Providence parish retaining younger members and recent immigrants who invariably settled in the suburbs.

After St. Anthony Church was closed, many artifacts were salvaged and moved into the Divine Providence church.

Not far from the Divine Providence Lithuanian church there is the Holy Sepulcher cemetery where many Lithuanians are buried, some under rather elaborately patriotic tombstones.
Unfortunately, the idea to create a Lithuanian section in the cemetery failed to materialize, as a result, the Lithuanian graves are spread over several sections.

Other Lithuanian sites in Detroit

An interesting Lithuanian memento may be found in the eerily empty streets of downtown Detroit. On a building on the corner of Grand River Avenue and Times Square corner (Parker-Webb Building) hangs a memorial plaque with a sole Lithuanian inscription „Čia gimė Fluxus įkūrėjas Jurgis Mačiūnas“. The English translation is not provided (it would be „The founder of Fluxus George Mačiūnas was born here“). In reality, Jurgis Mačiūnas was born in Kaunas, Lithuania (1931) and emigrated to the USA in 1948. The plaque was installed by Gilbert Silverman, an avid collector of Mačiūnas works. He used to have his premises in the building. At one point, he decided to create a memorial plaque and gift it to Kaunas city where Mačiūnas was born; however, Kaunas never installed the plaque and, ultimately, it was sent back to Silverman by Mačiūnas's relatives. Then, Silverman installed it on the building he had premises at. Interestingly, this made the plaque kind of a Fluxus artwork on itself - a false memorial plaque for oneself in some random city is definitely consistent with Mačiūnas's style.

False Jurgis Mačiūnas memorial plaque

False Jurgis Mačiūnas memorial plaque

Parker-Webb building on which the Mačiūnas plaque is located

Parker-Webb building on which the Mačiūnas plaque is located

Wayne State University Detroit campus has a Lithuanian Room in its Ethnic Heritage building, the Manoogian Hall. The room is actually a classroom, room number 288, located on the second floor. It was established in 1978, an important year, marking the 60th anniversary of Lithuania's independence declaration in 1918. All of its walls are covered with murals symbolizing the essence of Lithuania. They include the major buildings (both extant and demolished), patriotic symbols, historical images (e.g. Battle of Žalgiris), ethereal famous creations of Lithuanian artist M. K. Čiurlionis, all grouped into three coherent scenes. The explanations of each detail in each mural are available in English. In addition to the murals, there are other objects of Lithuanian ethnic art.

Fragments of the murals of the Wayne State University Lithuanian Room.

Fragments of the murals of the Wayne State University Lithuanian Room. On the left, one may see Lithuanians in national folk costumes in front of the Kaunas Vienybės Square. In the center, there is a close-up of the Liberty statue there and people laying flowers under it. On the right, there is Vilnius University and people of old era in front.

The room, however, has not been renovated for a long time, leaving parts of its details damaged and the informational plaque that explains all the details still declaring that Lithuania is under Soviet occupation. The building and the room may be accessed by everyone when there are no lectures inside. The designers of the room were the famous Lithuanian architect Jonas Mulokas, as well as his son, architect Rimas Mulokas, while Vytautas Augustinas created the murals.

Fragments of the Detroit Lithuanian room murals. Vilnius University on the left, while famous fortifications of Lithuania (Trakai Castle, now-demolished Vilnius fortifications) and the Battle of Žalgiris soldiers are on the right

Fragments of the Detroit Lithuanian room murals. Vilnius University on the left, while famous fortifications of Lithuania (Trakai Castle, now-demolished Vilnius fortifications) and the Battle of Žalgiris soldiers are on the right

While Hamtramck is traditionally considered a Polish neighborhood, like many Polish-American neighborhoods, it once also had a Lithuanian community. One building there (12000 Joseph Campau Avenue) still has a Lithuanian surname Smailis inscribed on it ("SMAILIS BLDG 1924"). Its original owner Juozas Smailis was a Lithuanian-American pharmacist and an important member of many Lithuanian societies in America. For his work in promoting Lithuanian culture abroad, he was even awarded the Order of Gediminas by the Republic of Lithuania.

SMAILIS BLDG 1924 plaque (Google Street View)

SMAILIS BLDG 1924 plaque (Google Street View)

The elaborate Renaissance revival St. Francis of Assisi is a Polish church - however, its facade has a bas-relief with a Lithuanian coat of arms (Vytis). This is because the church was constructed in 1903-1905. At the time, both Poland and Lithuania were ruled by foreign powers (especially the Russian Empire) and the idea that the independent Poland and Lithuania should form once again a united Commonwealth (as they did before 1795) was not yet dead.

St. Francis of Assisi Polish church

St. Francis of Assisi Polish church

Vytis on the facade of St. Francis of Assisi

Vytis on the facade of St. Francis of Assisi

Another common institution of Lithuanians and Poles before the final divorce of two nations was the Orchard Lake Seminary. While today this 1910 complex consists of Polish schools and museums, until some 1910s the unique seminary was aimed at training priests for a wider array of ethnic minority Catholic churches, including Slovak and Lithuanian. Lithuanians left the seminary during or before the bitter Polish-Lithuanian conflict over Vilnius region in the 1920s-1930s. While some Lithuanian priests would still be educated there afterwards, there were no Lithuanian programs any more and no Lithuanian signs remain within the complex.

Orchard Lake Schools

Orchard Lake Schools

In the University of Detroit Mercy Calihan Hall, Lithuanian-American Vince Banonis is listed in the University of Detroit sports hall of fame with his biography, image, and ball appearing there.

Part of Vince Banonis exhibit in the University of Detroit Mercy

Part of Vince Banonis exhibit in the University of Detroit Mercy


The map

All the Lithuanian locations, described in this article, are marked on this interactive map, made by the "Destination Lithuanian America" expedition (click the link):

Interactive map of Detroit Lithuanian sites

Click to learn more about Lithuania: Michigan, USA Leave a comment
Comments (97) Trackbacks (0)
  1. Lankiausi Detroite 2012 m. kovą. Buvo labai įdomu sudalyvauti Šv. Mišiose Šv. Antano lietuviškoje bažnyčioje. Džiugu, kad pavyko – naujos informacijos paie mišių laiką internete nėra – tebėra sena informacija, kad Šv. Mišios laikomos kasdien, o sekmadieniais – du kartus. Iš tikro laikomos tik sekmadieniais rytais – laimė, kaip tik tuo laiku ir atėjome.

    Neįprasta kunigui lietuviškai prašant pasimelsti už vyksupą girdėti ne Audrio Juozo, bet anglišką Detroito vyskupo vardą. Kadangi buvau per verbų sekmadienį nustebino ir amerikietiškos verbos – palmių šakelės (vietinius kitokios nustebintų).

    Bendruomenėje daugiausiai vyresnio amžiaus žmonės, vienas buvo 102 metų amžiaus. Tai antrosios bangos (~1950 m.) imigrantai, kai kurie jau gimę Amerikoje, bet labai prisirišę prie lietuviškos bendruomenės. Priėmė labai maloniai, ne vienas priėjo pasisveikinti (dalis lietuviškai, dalis angliškai), aprodė bažnyčią, įleido į šiaip uždarytą didžiąją salę. Daug iš to, ką čia surašiau, sužinojau iš tos parapijos narių – kitur internete ar knygose to nėra užfiksuota. Amerikoje įprasta, kad su į bendruomenę atėjusiais nepažįstamais bendraujama, tuo tarpu Lietuvoje taip būna labai retai – šiuo atveju Detroito lietuviai panašūs į amerikiečius. Ir šiaip mišios jiems ir bendruomenės susitikimas – po mišių visi kelioms valandoms susirenka parapijos salėje, kvietė ir mus prisijungti. Prieš mišias irgi nėra tabu, kaip Lietuvoje, ne pašnibždomis kalbėtis tarpusavyje pačioje koplyčioje.

    Klebonas buvo atsiųstas iš Lietuvos, aptarnaujantis ir kitą Detroito parapiją, o patarnavo ne lietuviai. Dalis giesmių buvo lietuviškos, dalis angliškos, atliktos vienuolių. Lietuviškas parapijonys giedojo labiau.

    Tuo tarpu J. Mačiūno memorialinę lentą aptikau visai netikėtai vaikštinėdamas po ištuštėjusį Detroito centrą.

    Pats Detroitas paliko didžiulį įspūdį, visgi kadaise turtingiausias JAV miestas, dabar toks tuščias ir niūrus. Atmosfera, kokios niekur kitur nėra – pusiau apleistas pirmojo pasaulio didmiestis, su greitkeliais, išdegusiais prabangiais namais, apleistais dangoraižiais ir žemės ūkio paskirties žeme bei parkingais ten, kur stovėjo milžiniški prekybos centrai. Tikrai verta apsilankyti, nors dauguma vietinių amerikiečių turbūt jus atkalbinės, kaip atkalbinėjo ir mus, jiems žlugęs Detroitas tam tikra jų šalies piktžaizdė.

    Apsilankymas lietuviškoje Šv. Antano bažnyčioje buvo vienas įdomiausių kelionės momentų.

  2. The Lithuanian Hall,across Vernor from St. Anthony’s, was owned by Mexican Americans when I was a little girl in the 1950’s. it was called “Espanos Unidos” and the Lithuanian community rented space for various social activities. So many of my formative experiences took place in that hall, or at St. Anthony’s.

  3. 1. Actually, the priest at St.Anthony did not just die. He finally got real tired and retired – went back to Lithuania – to Birstonas in fact, where he had purchased a house on the shore of Nemunas. 2. Back in the 1940’s, the Lithuanian Hall, across the street from St. Anthony, was purchased by the Spanish, not the Mexican community, and therefore it was called Hispanos Unidos Hall. In those days there actually was a Spanish community in Detroit ! Mexicans were few in number and relative paupers, in no financial position to purchase large buildings.

  4. Labai aciu! Wonderful information! My father and his mother emigrated to Chicago, then to Detroit, around 1950. Mt Lithuanian- born wife and I have kept the heritage alive with our daughter, and she attended Divine Providence Lithuanian Church (Southfield) Saturday school.

  5. In 1938-39,,I was 2-3 years old. My parents had a store on 24th street near West Vernor Highway. My sister was born in 1938. My mother was very busy running the store (my father worked for Ward Baking Company) and caring for a newborn. So she asked the nuns at St. Anthony’s if I could attend school there. They agreed. So I attended in a classroom with students of several grades. At the end of the school year, the nuns said I could return in September and I could go into the first grade, as I had learned what I needed to become a first grader. My parents were unable to afford the tuition, so I didn’t return. I did learn to speak some Lithuanian and said my prayers in Lithuanian. Imagine, a little Irish girl saying her prayers in Lithuanian.

    • Thanks for sharing your story

    • I was a little American/Lithuanian girl who said her prayers in Gaelic because of the nuns I was taught by… very interesting! My grandmother was a Žemaitis who married a Zubres in Wilkes-Barre PA and my other grandmother was a Murinas who married a Zemnickas in Scotland where they met up on their way over to Wilkes-Barre PA from Lithuania with a 6 month old baby they named John, born in 1906. They helped dig the basement and helped build St Peter’s. Both families have known each other for generations.

      • Hahaha Mary, I read your post (without looking at your name) and thought “hey, I know some Zubreses (Zubri?). Anyhow, howdy cousin!

      • Hello Mary. I’m have the same names in my ancestry tree. 🙂 I know that my grandma’s Rožė Muriniūte (Roze Murinas) was born in Lithuania, Kampuočių kaimas, near Poland, had a sister Marija (Marytė). Marija was married to Zimnickas and they had a son John (Jonas). I think I’ve found you on the FaceBook. I’ll be contacting you.

      • I think Uncle Johnny was six weeks old.

  6. My mother and father owned Altytaus Bar on Michigan and 23rd street. Detroit MI
    The name Alytaus is the city where my father’s family came from in Lithuania.
    My father and mother were very instrumental in assisting many of the displaced people from Lithuania after ww2 to help them accimulate to the United States.

  7. I remember going to 7th and 8th grade there.I became an altar boy there and remember the hall across the street had a small store on the ground floor had many a cherry coke there

  8. My grandfather, Antanas Zimnicky, came from Alytaus too, moving to Scotland in the early 1900s. He and my grandma married in 1905 and emigrated to the US in 1906. They helped found St. Peter’s

  9. I just stumbled on this page and I’m so glad I did! My great grandfather came from Lithuania (Pasvytinis, near Joniskis) in 1917, and our family Americanized very quickly – consequently, we were not particularly involved with the greater Lithuanian community. We originally settled down in Chicago, but we’ve been migrating eastward ever since, and I myself live in Detroit. Finding a page like this helps me to establish a connection with my roots, thank you!

    • Youtube is too egotistical to undo any changes. To say they may have implemented a few feature which needs detracting? Le gasp, never.Integrating "More Videos by User" and "Related Videos" is a slap in the face.The "Comments" section is ridiculous. I won't be Rating or Commenting on Videos any longer.All changes make perusing on Mobile useless.

  10. Gerb.p. Žemaiti, pasiklausiau Jūsų internete lietuvių abėcėlės tarimo.
    Dėkoju ir labai vertinu už Jūsų pastangas mokyti lietuvių kalbos. Esu mokytojavusi Amerikiečių mokyklose, taip pat mokiusi savo vaikus ir anūkus lietuvių kalbos. Kalbu iš patirties. Išmokyti juos tos labai paprastos, logika pagrįstos abėcėlės “lietuvišku” metodu neįmanoma. Raidžių garsus reikia jiems pristatyti taip, kaip jie tariami, BE PRIDĖTŲ GALŪNIŲ. Yra nesąmonė vardinti raidę B kaip BĖ, nes jie tą suprastų kaip du garsus, o tada reiktų valandų aiškinimo. Mokytojai tiek laiko skirti negali. Reikia viską supaprastinti. O tas yra lietuvių kalbos ypatingas privalumas, kad raidžių tarimas nesikeičia!! A visada tariama A, B visada B, C visada C. (Mažas išimtis, pvz. Ą su nosine, lengva paaiškinti – raidės su nosine tariamos ilgiau), taigi, ne bė, cė, dė, f (kodėl ne ef?), o paprastą a,b,c,d,f, ir t.t. Čia ne istorinis, bet efektingas mokymas.

    • Dėkui už komentarą. Minėti tarimų įrašai buvo daryti Omniglot svetainei apie alfabetus, o ne tiesiogiai mokymuisi (nors ateityje galvoju padaryti ir specialiai mokymuisi).

      Kalbant apie mokymąsi, tiesos jūsų žodžiuose yra. Tačiau yra viena problema – sprogstamųjų priebalsių (angl. plosives / stop consonants) neįmanoma ištarti po jų nesakant jokio balsio. Todėl, manau, ir atsirado sakymai “bė”, “dė” ir t.t., pasirenkant balsį “ė”. Nes po sprogstamojo priebalsio, kad jis būtų suprastas, reikia atverti burną – o tai ir yra balsis.

      Geras variantas mokyti, atsižvelgiant į gimtąją kalbą, galbūt yra analogiškų garsų radimas mokinių gimtojoje kalboje (dar geriau: radimas gimtojoje kalboje atvejų, kai ta pati raidė tariama vienodai, kaip lietvių kalboje). Pavyzdžiui, aiškinant “g” anglakalbiams galima pasakyti, kad ji “visuomet tariama tik kaip žodyje golf”, o “ž” anglakalbiams galima apibrėžti kaip “s” žodyje “measure” ir pan.

  11. My Mothers family migrated from Lithuania and resided on a street that started with a M in the Luthuanian section off of Vernor Highway. Their name was Tauktus. Would be interested in any information about them that anyone could provide.

    • We may offer you heritage search services in the Lithuanian archives if you are interested. You could learn more about the lives of your forefathers while they still lived in Lithuania.

    • Hi, David. My Lithuanian paternal grandparents lived on Cahalan just west of Mullane Street until their death in 1982. Please check for starters regarding your mother and her family. There may be census information on them depending when they lived in southwest Detroit. Also, has many Polk City Directories available on their site. Ancestry, Library Edition, is accessible at most public libraries. Polk City Directories are available at the Burton Historical Collection, Main Library, Woodward Avenue, Detroit. Finally, there are Facebook groups helping me with my Lithuanian ancestry search. Please check there, too!

  12. Jieskau Adomuko arba Jono Butaviciu gyvenusiu Detroite arba jo apylinkese seimos nariu. Jie mano mamos ata, dedes.

    • Hi, Ricardas,

      Are you on Facebook? Please consider joining this group-

      Thank you.

      Anne Tubinis Audette

  13. We got married in 1956 at the Church of Devine Providence. Father Kundrat married us. My mother donated the full size painting of Jesus on the cross in back of the alter We no longer live in Michigan. Trying to find out what happened to it after they tore the church down to build a freeway. By the front door was a plaque that said it was in memory of Frank Radville donated by Anna and Helen Dawahare. I hope it was not destroyed. And yes we are Lithuania, but like for so many the name was changed. Any information would be truly appreciated.

    • I meant to write Anna and Helen Radville not Dawahare.

    • Hello,
      Your e-mail was forwarded to me by the site administrator. Since it has been at least 60 years since the painting was donated, it is difficult to determine its whereabouts. It may have been donated to the Archdiocese of Detroit, who may have given it to another parish. It is possible that the receiving parish may have closed. There are many variables. I will provide you with some resources so that you can research this further: Archdiocese of Detroit –; tel. (313) 237-5800. Divine Providence Lithuanian Church, 25335 W. Nine Mile Rd., Southfield, MI 48233, tel. # (248) 354-3429, pastor – Rev. Gintaras A. Jonikas; website:
      Hope you find this information useful for your purposes!
      Good luck in your endeavor to locate the painting. It may also be helpful to know the exact size of the painting and the artist’s name and date of painting.
      Divine Providinc

  14. My greetings to all Lithuanians from me, an Italian-American, highly respectful of all Lithuanians (my cousin married a Lithuanian). My parents were married in Detroit, Michigan, in St. George’s church in 1935. We lived on Hindle avenue. Down the street at Hindle and Westminster was St. George’s church and school. I started school there in September 1940. My Italian mother would say that I was able to recite prayers in Lithuanian. Years later, in 1959, I was attending medical school in Baltimore, Maryland. One evening during that summer, I attended a Catholic youth meeting at a suburban Baltimore home. As the event concluded, I was walking out the front door, and, in front of me, was a priest. Since I have a good heart, I asked the priest if he had a way to get to where he was going. He said…no. It was surprising since he had gotten out to suburban Baltimore some way. I offered him a ride to wherever he was going. He said he was going to the Baltimore Cathedral, in downtown Baltimore. I said that I lived in downtown, also, since I was in medical school, there. And, I attended that church. So, as we were driving along, he said he was visiting the Baltimore Cathedral for a 3 month stay—from St. George’s church in Detroit! I have always remembered that evening. Now, I think I would like to re-learn the Lords Prayer that I learned from the Nun’s—in Lithuanian!!

    • Please join us at Linking our Lithuanian Ancestors-Detroit, a Facebook group-
      Thank you!

      • Anne, I’m not on f/b. Are there any other research site/info I c a n ck?
        My Lithuanian (father’s side, n n both his parents), all from Detroit. Thank you.

        • Hi, Chris, I’m sorry for the delay responding to your post. I just found it.
          A few of us are creating profiles for a project, Naturalized Lithuanians of Detroit. We have created a profile for Joseph Stroh. Might this be your relative? What was his wife’s name?

          Please check, too. You’ll need to set up a free account with an email and password. Once you do that, check out this link-
          Please let me know what other questions you have!

    • Wow! My Dad n family (Strokhaus) lived on hindle street and my Dad n siblings all went to St Georges. What fond old Detroit Memovies. I grew up in the Detroit metro area. My folks got married at St. Elizabeth church. Small world it is. Thx!

  15. Thanks for all the information

  16. this is a wonderful site. So many helping and sharing. My grandparents Andrew and Teophillia Zlatarinskas used to visit their friends in Detroit form Chicago in the 1920’s and 1930’s. i still recall many of my grandmothers stories. And her showing me her pictures form her visits. i am glad I kept many of her pictures.

  17. I have just very recently discovered that my paternal grandmother, Petrona, or Patricia Misukaitis is Lithuanian through DNA.
    Her mother, Margaret Misukiatis and sisters, Mary and Theresa moved from Pennsylvania after her father (William’s) death in the early 1920’s.
    I am writing this to try to posibly gain more information through possible connections, knowing that they belonged to St Anthony’s Parish.
    In 1940 the Federal Census shows that Margaret was a Lodger with the Karl Belskas Family on 25th Street, as was a John Zenimikais, a proprietor of a “beer garden.
    I am looking for information on the Misukiatis surname, in the Detroit area and to learn more about my newly found Lithuanian Heritage. Thank you.

    • If you are interested in what is available about your ancestors in the Lithuanian archives, we may provide you archive search services in Lithuania. As for their life in Detroit, perhaps someone who knew them will read here. You may also check our articles about the Lithuanian sites in Pennsylvania to have a better idea about what was their life like before moving to Detroit area.

      • Thank you so much for the valuable information.
        I’m so happy to have discovered this page.

      • My family is also a Lithuania-Pennsylvania-to-Detroit family and I’ve been doing a lot of digging. What services are available?

        • We offer search services in the Lithuanian archives. We may check the records for births, marriages, deaths, the existence of passports, real-estate-ownership and other such information. While information like births, marriages, deaths typically exist for everybody (unless the records were destroyed, which is not that frequent but happened e.g. during the major church fires in some cases), there may be much other information that is rarer (e.g. court cases, if a person participated in them).

          • Thx n wow. I never knew. I would love to get more info as I’m researching my families roots and info is hard t o get for my Lithuanian ( father’s side-Strohkaus).

    • Susan,

      Please join us at Linking our Lithuanian Ancestors-Detroit, a Facebook group-
      Thank you!

    • To piggyback off of Susan, her DNA and my husband’s matched. We had heard through our older relatives that my husband’s family name was changed from Misukaitis to Kephart. Susan helped us find the correct spelling of Misukaitis. Husband is linked though Petrona Misukaitis through Susan. We cannot figure out how our ancestor (Joseph Misukaitis born around 1900 we don’t know where, lived in Pennsylvania and Michigan, no info on parents) is related to Petrona. My thought is this: Petrona and sisters were born after her parents came to America. They came over in their mid-30s. I think for the time, it is highly unlikely that her mom and dad started having kids at this age. I’m wondering if older children were left in Lithuania? And came over later? That would mean they weren’t on ship records together and they might have been old enough to not live with parents, so they aren’t on censuses together. Does anyone have any information? How can we find information like this?

  18. Great informational site (stumbled across it accidently via FB).

    My Great-Grandfather John Ploplis (1875-1943) was from Bartninkai, Jurbarkas, arrived to Detroit in 1896 via New York. He married my GGM Anna Klara Lukomska in the eastside church St. Albertus near Hamtramck. They were the second couple to be married there. John’s brother Mathias (1874-1911) arrived 1 year earlier. I do not any information of the family in Lithuania. I do have a few fotos.

  19. Augustinai

    Tavo nuotrauka Val S. Bauza Funeral Home 1930 25th Street Detroit Mi 48216 siais smetais mini savo 60 m. kaip patarnauja yopac Lietuviams SLaidotuviu reikalais. Savininke yra Laidotuviu Direktore Yolanda Zaparackiene. AZ

  20. Wow! such an interesting series of history and information on this area… which is now predominantly Mexican. My great Grandparents lived in this area and my Mom (their grand-daughter) has many pictures and articles with a ton of history to share as well.

    As the story goes, my great grandpa (Alexander Dzagulones) settled in Dubois Pennsylvania and met his wife (Domicilla Saluta) before moving to Detroit near Holy Redeemer parish where my Grandpa (their first of 9 children) went to school made his sacraments etc. It was there where his teacher (a nun) and his prinicipal (who was an educated man from Russia) figured a way to translate the original name of his parents…you see, neither could read or write (or speak that well) in English so we have so many variations of their last name. I have bank account and other pieces of identification with different variations that was spelled “Zedembo” and the like. I have a copy of court record that was written and re-rewritten but was transcribed by Charles C. Thompson Deputy Clerk of the circuit court in Detroit in 1921 that lists my Great Grandpa’s journey to the states from how he emigrated to the U.S. from Hamburg Germany on the ship (Cincinatti) and his renouncement of any allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince or potentate state which included Poland and Russia. Also, included is the Date of arrival in N.Y. May 16, 1910.

    His name here is spelled Dzudulonis…the closest name I came across while researching the name is Dzedulonis. I believe it was the teacher/principals intent to give a name that was consistent with the phonetically pronunciation. At that time my Grandpa was in the 6th grade and the name stuck!

    • Hey Alex, its your cousin Gloria Honey. I was just on where I set up virtual memorials for my husband, parents, and brother. I am in the process of adding more information to the ones I set up for my mother’s parents and am searching for any information for my father’s parents (which I’m very sketchy on). You have provided me with more information than I could have possibly gleaned elsewhere. Do you mind if I steal this to set up a virtual memorial for the Dzagulones grandparents … or better yet, would you be interested in setting one up since I have no pictures? One of us is psychic – you posted here only three days ago and now here I am!

      • GLORIA! So nice to hear from you…I haven’t visited this site in some time, hence my late reply. I actually stumbled across the find-a-grave site recently as well and saw all the awesome photos you uploaded which I copied and sent to my Mom. Of course you can use what you need to add to the memorial you are creating…so glad I could help! Most of what I shared came from my Grandpa (your Uncle Al) and my mom’s memory. Also, she has little Grandpa’s trunk of items which had some other items that helped. I am more of a creeper (like to look at all the stuff that gets posted) and less of a posting/adding to sites like that, but would be happy to assist in anyway I can! Hope you get this.
        Hope you are well and would love to see you too! Lot’s of Love. Alex Di

        • Geez, Alex, its obviously been a while since I’ve been on this website too! I am planning to take a trip to Poland once this stupid virus thing is over and got to researching where my parents were born (finally figured out where my mother was born) and just got deeper into researching both sides of the family. My brother Gerry is interested in this info also which is why I did a search to find this website again. Your mom is in my thoughts frequently and I hope you take advantage of the website to preserve information for future generations and distant family members who may be doing searches. Much love, your cousin Gloria

          • Hello to both of you. My name is Edward Raymond Tomaszewski II and my grandfather was Edward Felix Tomaszewski married to my grandmother Katherine (Dzagulones) Tomaszewski.

            Been doing some research on my fathers (Edward Raymond Tomaszewski) side of the family. Trying to get an idea from where we came from. So cool to meet other family members online.

            Gloria I seen your info and was amazed. My grandmothers brother Tonys death certificate show that both of my great grand parents were born in Russia. Am I reading this correct? My father had no idea.

            I hope you see this message.

    • Any Detroit-Lithuanian ties are welcome here-

  21. Grandparents (Rafalowece – Augustinis and Kundrat (Kundrautas) were my Great Grand Mother’s line plus Great Uncle A. in the Great Quarry Slide of 1945 in Springfield). were married at the old churchlate 1920s/early 1930s. Best from Grand Rapids . Greetings from Grand Rapids ( Vytautas Aid Society, “Karieves” is the aka – actually now working in Detroit past few mos. )and enjoying your site ,

  22. Great stuff…so glad so many folks are joining in and sharing historical information.

    Thanks for starting and running this site!

  23. I just wanted to add a bit of trivia — that Lithuanian Hall, across from St. Anthony’s, was sold by the Lithuanians in 1956. I believe it was sold to Hispanic interests.

  24. We lived on Falcon St, a block over and just west of St. Peter’s Church. I attended catechism class taught by Mrs. Kashuba and made my first communion there in 1951. I well remember the parish priest, Fr. Savage. He personally took up the collection at every Mass on Sunday and said “thank you” to each person who contributed. If you didn’t, he paused the basket in front of you until you did!!

    • Small world. My maternal grandma was Agnes Milbocker Kassuba, born in Gaylord, MI. She and my grandpa Paul lived on Logan for many years. I remember Fr. Savage well, when I was very young, he used to give me cigar boxes filled with candy.

  25. Sveiki,

    Mano prosenelis, Apolinaras Ilskis, baigiantis antrajam pasauliniam karui, traukiantis vokieciams(1944. rudeni), emigravo i JAV. Mociute gaudavo laisku ir siuntiniu is jo iki pat 1954m. Po to buvo pranesta apie jo zuti autoavarijoje. ( nezinom ar tai tiesa).
    Ar yra galimybe suzinot jo kapo vieta Detroite ir ar isvis yra kokia informacij apie ji.

    Galbut nukreiptumet mus kur ir kaip ieskot informacijlos.

    Pagarbiai, Julijus

    • Hello,

      I am looking for any information about my grand grand father Apolinaras Ilskis. He fleed to USA in 1944. Kept sending letters until 1954 until his death (as we been told a car accident). He lived in Detroit. If you can guid us how and where to find any information about him my family would be very gratefull. Even a place at the cemetery would be wonderfull.

      Sincerely, Julijus

      • Hi, Julijus,


        I have a few documents. Sigita Vilkaite Vilke contacted me in 2020, asking the same!

    • Atskirų lietuvių kapinių Detroite nėra, tačiau daugiausiai lietuvių yra palaidota Holy Sepulchre kapinėse. Galbūt galėtumėte susisiekti su jų administracija – kai ieškau žymių lietuvių kapų JAV, paprastai užklausiu kapinių administracijų ir jos padeda.

      Taip pat galite susisiekti su dabartinėmis Detroto lietuvių organizaicjomis, ypač parapija, ir Anne Tubinis aukščiau komentaruose nurodyta grupe apie Detroito lietuvius, kur yra daug jų palikuonių – gal kas žinos daugiau / prisimins.

  26. The Val Bauza funeral home might have had a different name (Brazis Chapel) based on this copy of my great-grandfather’s funeral notice in 1950 –

    • Went to St.Anthony’s til 1955 7th grade, the funeral home was Brazis I
      Think the director’s name was Czaukis? A classmate many of them were older
      Because of little schooling because of war. Remember Johns grocery in
      Lithuanian bldg on 25th,oak bar on corner 25th and Vernor. Priest was
      Father Brazos (quite Lithuanian) nuns all old country and lived on Bagley.
      Anybody else out there?? Smiling BobA

      • My grandmother and uncle were buried from a Susa funeral home as well as St. Anthony Lithuanian church at 25th and Vernor Hwy.

    • Hi, Eric,
      Thanks for your post. What newspaper printed the obituary?

      I manage this group- Are you a member?

      We are creating profiles for Naturalized Lithuanians of Detroit project. I haven’t come across much yet regarding your ggf. However, I do have his signature as an affidavit witness for a gLithuanian man who became a citizen. Please let me know what questions you have!

  27. My father was born just outside of Kaunas in 1908. He came to the U.S. with his mother and two older brothers 18 months later to join with his father who had left Lithuania earlier to escape the Russian arm draft. His mother’s mother, step father, and sister also came to the U.S. at that time. They traveled vis Bremen to Baltimore which was a popular route for Lithuanians prior to WWI. My grand father’s two brothers and mother migrated to Brazil just prior to WWII. We lost contact with them in approximately 1940.

    My Grandfather bought a farm just north of Omer, Michigan without ever seeing the place. The soil was so sandy few crops could grow there. He left for Detroit to work in the auto industry and would visit his family as often as possible by taking a train to Standish from Detroit.

    By now, grandpa had five sons: Frank, Joe Jr., Stanley (my father), Walter, and Anthony. The boys worked the farm growing mostly potatoes, raised chickens, milked cows, cut wood, fished and hunted to keep the farm going. This left little time for school but my father got through 8th grade.

    Grandpa, Joseph spoke little English, but was fluent in Lithuanian, Polish, and knew a little Russian and in those days that was enough to get by on the auto factory floor. He made the mistake of trusting a sleazy lawyer to transact matters in Arenac county, who took his money but never paid the property tax. So, the farm was lost, and Grandpa Joe brought the family to Detroit, and eventually to Hamtramck.

    My mother’s family was from Poland, but first came to the U.S. via Cleveland. She, Helen, was born in Detroit, and her father bought a house in Hamtramck because it was a heavily populated by immigrant Poles. My father originally dated her older sister before marrying her. They settled in Hamtramck, which is why I was brought up with Polish culture, although I always wondered about my Lithuanian Heritage.

    Hamtramck did have a small minority of Lithuanians. There were four of us in my graduation class (Hamtramck High School, 1966). I found out that their once there was a Lithuanian club on Conant avenue north of Caniff, but I don’t know when it closed and turned into a bar.

    After college, with degrees from Central Michigan and Wayne State, I became interested in genealogy, by then only my Grandpa Joe and his sister-in-law were alive to ask about family in Lithuania, and Grandpa Joe didn’t speak English and my Polish was too weak to convey what I wanted to know about. His sister-in-law explained that her maiden name was Chapas, but could not tell me much about Lithuania. I did not push the matter hard enough when I had the chance, then both died. My father, could not tell me much, and three of his brothers were already deceased.

    I tried to contact someone in Lithuania through the University in Vilnius, but back in the Communist days, those records (if they still existed after two world wars and the deportations to Siberia) were virtually impossible to find. I found out that the family name was either son of Luke, or family of nut gathers. I prefer the first explanation. I know it was spelled wrong because of the lack of an H in the Lithuanian language.

    I did get to visit Lithuania a few years ago to find where my father was born. The church he was baptized in was gone. I only had my father’s baptismal record to go by which was verbally translated from Lithuanian into Russian (manditory at that time) then later translated into English by U.S. immigration. learned that an S with a birdwing symbol on top was pronounced as SH.

    I learned that Lithuania is still a very rural country that preferred talking about the first Republic, and the Glory days of the Jagiellonian period and to a lesser extent the Commonwealth days rather than its most recent history. Although they are proud to be an independent country again.

    I was amazed how every restaurant was proud of and wanted to serve me Cepelinai or in the fancier places, wild game meats or stews. When I asked about Kugelis, I was told to go to McDonalds. Potatoes stuffed with meat is the national dish, and potato pudding looked down upon as a peasant dish.

    The year after my Lithuanian adventure, I sang with my choir in an international competition in Riga, Latvia. Their old town is not as authentic as Vilnius but I found the food better.

    I will add additional comments at a later time.

  28. Anne, I’m not on f/b. Are there any other research sites/info I c a n ck?
    My Lithuanian (father’s side ( Strokhaus), n n both his parents), all from Detroit, west side. Lived on Hindle and knodell Sts, in Detroit. Thank you.

    • Hi, Chris,
      I provided a link to familysearch in another post a few minutes ago. I’m certain this is not your family. My mistake. I’m sorry.

      Do you live in Michigan? If so, I recommend setting up a free account- You are able to access great info.

      Also, check out, a site which provides access to Lithuanian-American newspapers.

      Please let me know what other questions you have.

  29. Is there a Lithuanian organization where I could bring my grandfather’s birth certificate and have someone read it to me or translate it? Ellis Island changed his name when he entered the county, and we have no idea what our real name was.

  30. Just found your site today and have learned a lot just by browsing through it. My great grandfather Josef Dombrowski, born in Kaunus about 1860 came to US with wife and two daughters about 1890. Although carrying a Polish name he claimed Lithuanian heritage. Settled in Dayton, OH initially. After 1913 flood there he moved to Detroit and worked for Ford as a social worker helping newly migrated Ford employee families to adapt to ways of living in the US. He was multi-lingual (seven languages) and could work with most of the immigrant cultures. Two of his daughters Agnes and Leona lived together in the Hamtramck area into the 1950’s. When he died in 1926, his body was brought back to Dayton for burial by my grandmother. Joe’s widow Adolphinae (Gabriels) remained in Detroit where she died in 1946. In Dayton he had helped found a Catholic church for the Lithuanian community (Holy Cross Church). I’m interested to hear from anyone who may have heard of my family in Detroit. George Brose, Courtenay, British Columbia, Canada.

    • Likely, the original Lithuanian name of his would have been Juozapas Dambrauskas.

      • Thank you, Augustinas.
        I’ll start doing an Ancestry search using that name. All records on the US side of the Atlantic though seem to be with the Dombrowsky name.
        George Brose

        • Are you sure that your great-grandfather was a Pole or a Lithuanian? My family is from Yurburg, Kovno province, there were many Yosif Dombrowsky in the family, but they are all Jews. Dombrovsky is a geographical surname given by the place of residence of the ancestors. My ancestors also always remained Dombrowski, without changing their surname to the Lithuanian way. Perhaps your Jewish ancestor Joseph Dombrovsky emigrated to America, where he was baptized, considering it more convenient for the future life, and in fact we are even distant relatives 🙂

          • While theoretically possible, it is highly unlikely. A Jew would typically consider himself/herself a Jew and integrate in wider Jewish-American communities, and not participate in the foundation of Lithuanian churches. The USA was a country of religious freedom – there was no need for conversion and this almost never happened. The surname Dombrofski/Dombrowski/Dambrauskas exists in Jewish, Polish, and Lithuanian communities alike.

          • Shany, I apologize for taking so long to reply to your note. It is possible that there is a Jewish connection in my family as my DNA indicates about 1-2% Jewish heritage. When Josef Dombrowsky arrived in the US in the 1890’s though, he behaved very Catholic. He was instrumental in founding a Catholic church for Lithuanians in Dayton, Ohio before he moved to Detroit. I have picture of him from Europe that has a note at the corner “Kovna”. Am I correct to assume that is now Kaunus?

  31. You are absolutely right/

  32. One more piece in the puzzle of my great grandparents Joe and Adelaide Dombrowski is that they appear to have changed their surname to Adams (1920 Census, and Adelaide’s death record in 1946 indicate this). The Adams name came from their eldest child Victoria who married Stanley Adams (Stanislaus Adamowiecz). Joe, Adelaide and several of their children (Agnes, Leona, and Jack) also took that name. A fourth child, Frank, took a completely different name (Darling). No idea why.

    • It may be impossible to find out if they are all passed away but, in general, anglicizing surnames was common back then. Some would anglicize and shorten the original surname (e.g. Dombrowski – which would on itself be a Polonized version of Lithuanian “Dambrauskas” – could become something like Dombrow), others would adopt different-but-similar surnames (maybe “Darling” could be the case as it is still somewhat similar to Dombrowski), while others could adopt new surnames entirely.

  33. I attended St. Anthony school from 1950 to 1952. There were 4 classrooms; grades 1 & 2 were combined, as were 3 & 4, 5 & 6, and 7 & 8. I still remember the Sister’s names. My grandparents lived on Hubbard, which was close to the school. The pastor for Father Boracious ( I am sure the spelling is incorrect.) I went back to see the church and school several years ago, and my heart was broken…….all boarded up…….covered with graffiti. All my classmates were Lithuanian. My heritage is just on my mother’s side. Grandparents were John and Alice Paplinskas.

  34. It’s been great reading everyone’s memories about old St. Anthony’s Church, where I was baptized, and the Lithuanian Hall across the street where we went for barankos “bagels” every Sunday after Mass.
    But all of you so enthusiastically reaching out for Lithuanian memories can find us still having mass in Lithuanian at Dievo Apvaizdos Baznycia ((Divine Providence Lithuanian Church) at 25335 West Nine Mile Road, Southfield, MI.
    Lithuanian Mass at 10:30 on Sunday, followed by coffee and kugelis in the Cultural Center. English Mass at 4:00 on Saturdays. Be sure to visit the Archives/Museum room with pictures of all the old Lithuanian churches and the pastors.
    We just celebrated our 50th anniversary after being moved from the old Schaeffer location. We are also the parish that St. Anthony was merged with some years ago.
    It’s true time marches on, and we are the last Lithuanian Church left in Detroit. We realize our time is numbered as well and ask all of you of Lithuanian heritage to return to your roots. Dievo Apvaizdos is an ethnic parish without boundaries so you can join us no matter where you live.
    My name is Robertas Selenis, and I’m the recently appointed Business Manager for the Church. Our priest is Rev. Tomas Miliauskas, from Lithuania. We invite you to the church of your heritage. While you can worship with us in English on Saturdays, I strongly urge you to hear the oldest living language, Lithuanian, being prayed and sung every Sunday at 10:30.

Leave a comment

No trackbacks yet.