Detroit-Local artisans preserving a piece of Southwest Detroit’s history are digging through piles of debris and rubble to salvage bricks, limestone archways, and other historic materials from two of Detroit’s public schools being torn down to build a brand new $22.3 million PreK to 8 school in the community.
Members of 555 Nonprofit Gallery and Studios have been granted access by Detroit Public Schools to dig through tons of piles of debris and rubble to salvage historic building materials from the former Munger Middle School and Chadsey High School that were built in the 1920s. Heavy demolition of both schools is underway at the intersection of Martin and McGraw streets. Salvaged items will be preserved and relocated to a community garden that will be developed on the grounds of the Detroit Public Library Conely Branch this spring.
The nonprofit arts group, along with other Southwest Detroit-based community organizations, received a grant from the Skillman Foundation and other charitable organizations to develop a community garden to be developed around the neighborhood’s public library, located at Martin Street and Michigan Avenue several blocks from the school campus. Work by volunteers on the community garden will begin this spring.
“The Munger and Chadsey schools are an important asset to this community and belong to the people here,” said Jacob Martinez, 555 Nonprofit Gallery and Studios member. “This
neighborhood that has roots that go deep and we want to preserve as much as we can for the next generation.”
Martinez said the salvaged bricks will be used to create walking paths through the community garden. Four 10-ft. by 14-ft. limestone archways weighing several tons will be placed at several entrances planned for the garden.
“The school archways represented an entryway to education,” Martinez said. “It’s fitting these artifacts will soon have a new home down the road at another building that inspires learning.”
Once site excavation is complete, construction will begin on a brand new $22.3 million PreK to 8 school to accommodate up to 1,100 students. The new school will include an elementary and middle school wing connected by a two-story “student arcade” that will function as a dining court, student center and school square. Bright, sustainable classrooms will line colorful corridors centered around an academic commons area and teacher work centers. The new school is scheduled to open later this year.
White / Turner, a 50% Detroit-headquartered firm, is the design builder for the Munger project.
Detroit voters approved Proposal S in Nov. 2009 which enabled the district to access $500.5 million for school capital improvement projects. DPS received the sixth largest allocation in the nation.
The improvement program also includes district-wide technology upgrades and security initiatives being funded with Proposal S dollars. To comply with federal guidelines, all bond dollars must be spent within three years and all projects must be completed by September 2012.