Deutsches Haus / Greater Macedonia Church

Detroit at the turn of the 20th century was a mix of dozens of different ethnic groups, ranging in size from a few hundred to tens of thousands. Many groups settled in specific areas, resulting in neighborhoods that were predominately Polish, Irish, or German, to name a few. The German neighborhood in Detroit, known as "Little Germany" was located in what is today known as Lafayette Park. As with similar neighborhoods, the center of the community was a social hall where people could gather to hold meetings, parties, and other social events.

The Arbeiter Hall, or workers hall was a modest wood building with a beer garden at the corner of Catherine and Russell Streets used by dozens of different German societies and groups. But by the 1910’s the movement of German families from the neighborhood to outlying parts of the city led to a decrease in use of Arbeiter Hall, which was sold and torn down to make way for Leland School in 1916. In its place community leaders began planning for a new, larger hall that could seat 5,000, but the project was abandoned with the onset of the First World War.

It wasn’t until 1923 that planning resumed, this time on a much smaller but still grand meeting hall on the corner of Mack and Maxwell. To pay for construction of the 1,600-seat "Arbeiter Temple" money was raised from the German community through the sale of stocks. At some point between 1924 the name of the project was changed to Deustches Haus, or German House, possibly to make it more inclusive of all the German organizations in the city.

In a document outlining the proposed building, the association building the Haus wrote that a Deutsches Haus was "…a community house which affords to Germanic Societies and in fact to all German Americans of the City primarily, but secondarily also to other citizens, an ideal place for meetings, recreation, amusement, entertainment and mutual co-operation. It is a center which draws all forces to it, a home which harbors all, a common ground upon which men and women meet and learn to gather strength for nobler effort and achievement."

Though smaller than the previously planned Temple, the Haus was still a dominating structure, designed by Louis and Paul Kamper. The top two floors would be home to a massive theater, while the lower level would contain businesses and facilities for German clubs.

In 1926 several thousand people gather for the laying of the corner stone, with a performance of Beethoven’s "Ehre Gottes" sung by the mass chorus of the United German Singing Societies under direction of Hans Hagen.

Michigan Governor Fred W. Green, Detroit mayor John W. Smith were among the dignitaries on hand for the opening of the Deutsches Haus on April 2nd, 1927, as well as members of other German societies from around the country. The Haus became the social hub for 42 German societies in the city, featuring dining rooms, gymnasiums, billiard rooms, and bowling alleys. A Rathskeller, or council cellar, served as the main club room with paintings and murals of German figures and themes.

Traditionally, a Rathskeller is a place for drinking or eating, but the Deutsches Haus opened in the middle of a nationwide prohibition on the consumption of alcohol. Despite the possibility of heavy fines, the grand opening celebration had plenty of liquor, leading a raid by federal agents and temporary closures.

Over the years the German population declined along with other ethnic populations, leading to the eventual sale of the building to a church being displaced by urban renewal efforts underway near downtown. Greater Macedonia Baptist Church took over the building in 1963 and used it until around 2008.