St. Coleman’s Garden of Eden

Going to church should be an uplifting experience. Worshiping next door to a condemned property, however, tends to dampen the spirit.
That was what the congregation faced when they attended services at St. Colman’s in the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood. The house standing adjacent to the church was an eyesore that needed to be demolished. That’s when the Cuyahoga Land Bank stepped in: it acquired the property, demolished the house and sold it back to St. Colman’s for $1 after church officials agreed to clean and maintain the property.
Initially, St. Colman’s planned to expand its parking lot, but now it is taking that plan a step further. “We’re going to demolish a second house, next to that first demolished property and plant a rain garden there,” says Fr. Bob Begin, St. Colman’s pastor.
A rain garden is a garden of plants that favor plenty of water, designed so that rain water flows to gravel or sand surrounding the plants and will need less watering and maintenance.
Instead of a fence at the far end of the new garden and parking lot, landscapers will install a “planter wall” made of dwarf fruit trees. “The wall itself will be a veterans’ memorial wall, commemorating soldiers who sacrificed their lives in World War II and the Vietnam War,” Fr. Begin says.
The pastor’s plans might be ambitious, but he’s looking beyond the church
property at the future of Detroit Shoreway. “This will be a destination,” he says. “People will be able to come here and relax, walk in the garden, and have a place to park. The idea is to make this neighborhood a place you want to come to, not just drive through.”

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