Our Lady of Assumption Church

HOPE REMAINS FOR FUTURE OF HISTORIC CHURCH DESPITE FUNDRAISING ROLLERCOASTER RIDE  

Why it matters

Our Lady of Assumption Church is a prominent landmark steeped in history—a Gothic Revival tour de force serving the oldest continuously operating Roman Catholic parish in Ontario, with roots dating back to the early 18th century. Built in 1842 on land donated by the Huron Nation, the present church is associated with an earlier Jesuit mission for the local Huron and Ouendot First Nations; with service to the area’s first French farmers; and with the founding of Assumption College, which ultimately became the University of Windsor. Owned by the Roman Catholic Diocese of London, and located on a notable site east of the Ambassador Bridge and adjacent to the University of Windsor, the building is loved by parishioners and the wider community.

Why it’s endangered

Substantial funds estimated at $10 to $15 million are needed to make essential structural, electrical, mechanical and life safety repairs and upgrades. Yet there is a will in the community to save the building, and optimism that the funds can be found. Indeed, major donors have come forward offering multi-million dollar contributions. However, fundraising efforts have been a rollercoaster ride of hopes raised and dashed. A 2009 fundraising campaign led by prominent local figures was terminated by the Bishop without explanation.

Where things stand

In 2014, $10 million offered by a private donor was ultimately turned away by the Diocese. The building’s doors were closed indefinitely by the Bishop in November 2014, with parishioners now worshipping elsewhere. There is no indication of the Diocese’s intentions for the future of the building. In the meantime, portions of the brick façade are crumbling.

Update 2021: The Our Lady of Assumption Restoration Plan is currently in Phase 2 of 4. Phase 1, successfully completed in 2019, included a new copper roof, a new hot water heating system, asbestos removal and other high-priority projects focused on stabilizing the structure. Assumption Church returned to full time use in September 2019. Phase 2, focusing on restoring the church’s interior, began in July 2020 and remains underway despite the COVID-19 Pandemic. Phases 3 and 4 will address the exterior and the Sacristy/Chapel. The goal is for restoration to be completed well in time to celebrate the church’s tricentennial anniversary in 2028. This work will not just bring an important heritage building back to life, it will also confirm the importance of this architectural masterpiece to Windsor-Essex and to Canada.

Assumption Church is still accepting donations to help with the restoration process. Check out their website here.

Location: Windsor, ON

Endangered Places List: 2015

Status: Saved

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