Located in western Wayne County off Five Mile Road between Sheldon and Northville Roads, St. John's Provincial Seminary was established in 1948 as the major seminary in Michigan by the bishops of the state under the leadership of Edward Cardinal Mooney. At the time, there were not enough seminaries in the Midwest and the bishops decided to establish a major seminary, a designation that reflects that the institution confers graduate degrees.
St. John's provided graduate-level theological education and spiritual formation for diocesan priesthood candidates from the dioceses of Detroit, Lansing, Grand Rapids, Saginaw, Gaylord, Kalamazoo and Marquette.
Founded in 1919 as a minor diocesan seminary, Sacred Heart Seminary, in Detroit, was attended by high school and undergraduate college students. From 1948 into the 1980s, it was common for men graduating from Sacred Heart Seminary to attend St. John's for their graduate studies. St. John's continued its mission for 40 years, expanding into the education and formation of laity and religious.
As the number of seminarians in Michigan declined in the 1970s and ‘80s, the Archdiocese of Detroit obtained sole possession of St. John's property and facilities.
The Archdiocese designated Sacred Heart as its major seminary in 1988 when it added a Graduate School of Theology to its College of Liberal Arts. Seminarians at St. John's transferred to the newly-established graduate program at Sacred Heart, after which St. John's was closed. St. John’s Provincial Seminary began a 6-year period of dormancy while its land and buildings were available for sale.