Saint Michael Catholic Church33 Elm Street
Fort Loramie, Ohio 45845
Saint Michael Catholic Church
Saint Michael Catholic Church is a Tuscan Gothic structure built on a grand scale, reflecting the wealth generated by trade on the Ohio Erie Canal. It is located in Fort Loramie which was a military outpost and the site of the first Catholic Mass performed in the Catholic Diocese.
Designed by the Cleveland architectural firm Cudell and Richardson to resemble Cleveland’s Catholic cathedral, Saint Michael Catholic Church is distinctive for its Tuscan Gothic design. Wealth generated by canal trade allowed the German Catholics to build Saint Michael on a grand scale. Its exterior is brick with carved sandstone trim, topped by a 200-foot tower that contains four bells. Statues of the Evangelists grace the side entrances. Perhaps in recognition of the Fort Loramie’s beginnings as a military outpost, the statues above the central portal – Saint Maurice, Saint Michael, and Saint Martin of Tours – are patrons of soldiers and protection forces.
The interior of the church features a center vault soaring 55 feet overhead. The sanctuary and nave are lit by twenty-two stained glass windows which add a tranquil glow to imported statues and the Stations of the Cross. The carved wood high altar and side altars are original. Considered one of the most outstanding structures in the Cincinnati Archdiocese, Saint Michael appears today much as it did when it was completed in 1881
In 1769, French Canadian Pierre Louis Lorimier established a trading post along Loramie Creek to trade with the Native Americans in the area. Because he was suspected of being a British agent, Lorimer Station and nearby Indian villages were destroyed in 1782 by George Rogers Clark; in 1793, General Anthony Wayne ordered that Fort Loramie be built on the site to ensure that the Treaty of Greenville was enforced. After the War of 1812, a town grew up around the fort. With completion of the Ohio Erie Canal, the town expanded as German canal laborers settled in to build businesses and homes.
Saint Michael Parish was founded in 1838, but the faith in the region dates back to 1749 when a French explorer and his detachment made camp along a creek. It was there that the detachment’s chaplain offered Holy Mass for the men in the encampment. It has been suggested that this was the first Mass performed in the Cincinnati Archdiocese.
The first mass for the Saint Michael Parish was performed by Louis Navarron in 1838. The first church built on this site, completed in 1851, was a plain structure. As the congregation grew, the parish commenced building a grander cathedral which was completed in 1881. Portions of the earlier church are visible within the 1881 sanctuary.