Gym underneath Detroit church where many Motown acts got their start damaged in flooding

Church works to raise money for repairs

St. Stephen AME church on Detroit’s west side has been a spiritual home for Detroiters since 1918 but it also has a rich Motown musical history that was submerged during recent flooding.
St. Stephen AME church on Detroit’s west side has been a spiritual home for Detroiters since 1918 but it also has a rich Motown musical history that was submerged during recent flooding.

DETROIT – St. Stephen AME church on Detroit’s west side has been a spiritual home for Detroiters since 1918 but it also has a rich Motown musical history that was submerged during recent flooding.

“This place was such a mess,” Rev. Darryl Williams said.

Williams said two feet of water sloshed through the gym underneath the sanctuary and it took parishioners seven days to remove all the water.

“It’s more than a gym. It was a mecca for many since its inception in 1956,” Williams said.

Including some young men and women who came to the church’s talent nights and later used it for rehearsal space. That includes Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, The Temptations and many others.

“This church, because of the gym, was more than just a spiritual place. It was a social place, it was a political place and it served many needs,” Williams said.

The flooding destroyed the original wood floor and caused mildew problems.

Contracts said to replace the floor with vinyl will cost $50,000. To do the original wood it would cost around $100,000.

The congregation can’t bare the thought of seeing the gym become a closed off space so they’re working to raise money to replace it.

Click here to visit the GoFundMe page.

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Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.