Located in the Northwest Goldberg neighborhood of Detroit, Michigan, King Solomon Baptist Church’s facility at Marquette and 14th Street was best known as the first African American church to be located on a major thoroughfare.
Located in the Northwest Goldberg neighborhood of Detroit, Michigan, King Solomon Baptist Church‘s facility at Marquette and 14th Street was best known for becoming a popular venue for influential black leaders.
The Gothic-styled church was completed in 1920, and housed Temple Baptist Church from 1934 to 1951. Temple was a conservative, pro-segregationist church that barred African Americans from attending, and boasted a congregation of 5,000. In 1937, an Art Deco-styled auditorium was completed across the street from the church.
Like many churches, it was home to a corner pharmacy which helped pay off the construction bonds of the building, and to help cover future maintenance costs.
After the black community began to dominate the demographics in the neighborhood, Temple relocated to a large facility on Grand River Avenue where there was a sizable white population. But after the neighborhood became more mixed demographically, Temple once again relocated to West Chicago Avenue near Telegraph Road.
King Solomon relocated from Delmar Street to Temple’s vacated facility at Marquette and 14th in 1952, which soon became a popular for influential black leaders. It was also where Malcolm X delivered Message for the Grass Roots, where he attacked the non-violent civil rights movement and called for a “black revolution.” It was also where he criticized the 1963 March on Washington and noted that all black Americans had a common enemy: white people. The church also hosted other leaders, including Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Thurgood Marshall, who was the chief council for the NAACP and later appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court by President Johnson. Marshall oversaw the landmark Brown versus Board of Education of Topeka case.
On March 22, 2011, the Detroit City Council designated King Solomon and another church within a historic district. Today, King Solomon Baptist Church survives with a much smaller congregation across the street in the auditorium.