Cathedral of Christ the King

People: Irving W. Colburn

Date: 1968

City: Portage

Cathedral of Christ the King, Portage.  Courtesy of the Joseph Messana Architectural Image Collection, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries.

The Cathedral Church of Christ the King, located in Portage, Michigan, was built in 1968 at a cost of $1,653,730. The church served as the seat of the Diocese of Western Michigan for the Episcopal Church under the direction of Bishop Charles Bennison. Chicago-area architect Irving Colburn designed the landmark structure, which features eighteen towers. One of the towers contains a forty-seven-bell carillon. The structure was planned as phase one of a larger complex that would have included an academy and senior citizens’ residences. Two large labyrinths were added to the grounds at later dates.

The Cathedral entrance holds several sculptures by Italian Sculptor Leo Lentelli, whose work includes the bas-reliefs at Rockefeller Center in New York City. From 1922 to 1952 the church sculptures were a part of the façade of the Strauss Building at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Jackson Boulevard in the city of Chicago. Allegorically depicted are Commerce, Agriculture, Industry, and the Arts: all deemed by Lentelli as major forces in development of the Midwest in the early twentieth century.

In 2007 the Diocese of Western Michigan sold the building as a result of the Diocese’s financial struggles. Concurrent with the sale of the building, the church’s Aeolian-Skinner organ was sold and moved to St. Andrew Lutheran Church in Franklin, Tennessee.