Project Description

Chandler Elementary School was built in 1905 at 9227 Chapin Street, at the corner of McClellan Street, on Detroit’s lower east side.  Chandler Elementary School was nammed after Zachariah Chandler, who was a four-term US Senator and the Mayor of Detroit from 1851-1852.  Chandler Elementary School is one of the oldest schools that is still standing in Detroit.  Chandler Elementary School had to build several additions on to the original school because of overcrowding student population.  Chandler Elementary School ended up with three and a half stories, complete with an auditorium, library, and gymnasium.  Chandler Elementary School was a property of the Detroit Public School system.  Alumni and former students of Chandler Elementary School were known as the “Chandler Warriors,” as their school mascot was a warrior.

Problems for Chandler Elementary School started when the population of the neighborhood, as well as the rest of Detroit, began to rapidly decline.  The other problem was that Chandler was one hundred years old and the maintenance and upkeep became too expensive.In 2005, Chandler Elementary School closed it’s doors for good, behind all of the schools furnishings, supplies, and records.  Former Detroit mayors Coleman Young and Dennis Archer both attended Chandler in their youth.

Detroit Public Schools (DPS) decided that Chandler Elementary School was going to get the Vacant Property Security (VPS), in other words, large sheets of metal to cover the doors and windows, that are designed to help keep scrappers and trespassers out of vacant property.  So all of the school’s doors and windows were covered in the big, metal, and most of all, ugly VPS sheets.  The troubling fact for DPS was that they were millions of dollars in deficit and needed to come up with a cheaper way to try and properly secure the near-100 abandoned schools that they owned.  This was their new and improved method.  Before the VPS was here, DPS used just regular plywood sheets to cover the doors and windows.  Obviously, this didn’t work; the wooden boards would become weak and/or weathered over time, break, or were easily removed by anyone that wanted to enter the abandoned property.  VPS was supposed to be the new answer to the same old problem.  VPS actually worked….but not for long.  Then the trespassers (mostly metal thieves) found out how to remove the VPS sheets.  Once this began to happen, DPS was in big trouble and the school’s were in even bigger trouble.  The abandoned schools became a favorite target for scrappers.  Chandler Elementary School was no exception.

By 2011, the VPS metal sheets at Chandler Elementary School began to slowly disappear.

As of 2015, Chandler Elementary School is still crrently abandoned, with no plans for redevelopment, renovation, or demolition.  The Detroit Public Schools police still keep a close eye on the school and will prosecute anyone that gets caught trespassing on the property.


Chandler Elementary School in 2009:


Chandler Elementary School in 2012: