Project Description

Elizabeth Cleveland Intermediate School was built in 1927 on Detroit’s northwest side, near the border of Hamtrmack, Michigan.  Elizabeth Cleveland Intermediate School was 13322 Conant Street, at the corner of Charles Street.  Elizabeth Cleveland Intermediate School was designed by the Donaldson & Meier architectural firm and built in beautiful Elizabethian style.  The most catching detail of Cleveland school is the two stone, castle-like towers on each side of the school’s main entrance. Elizabeth Cleveland Intermediate School is named after Elizabeth Cleveland, a late 19th-century author, sociologist, and teacher in Detroit.  Former students and alumni of Cleveland Intermediate School were known as “Cleveland Cougars,” as their school mascot was a cougar.

Cleveland Intermediate School was a large, two-story structure, with an auditorium, gymnasium, library, and swimming pool.  The school’s large and outdated structure became the primary reason for it’s downfall in 2006 and subsequent closure in 2009.  Cleveland Intermediate School, which had changed it’s name to Cleveland Junior High School or Cleveland Middle School had over $3 million in maintenance repairs in 2006.  Cleveland Junior High School was unfortunately a property of Detroit Public Schools and DPS was already millions of dollars in deficit, so the problems were never fixed.  In 2008, enrollment at Cleveland Junior High School was less than half of the students that they had in the previous years.  This was the “final straw” for the troubled school and in 2009, DPS closed Cleveland Junior High School for good.

The story of Cleveland Junior High School does not end there.  Detroit Public Schools had problems in securing the large building, so they put the Vandalism Protection Security (VPS) metal, sheets over all of the first-floor doors and windows at Cleveland Junior High School.  This strategy did not work, and metal thieves continued to break or remove the VPS sheets from the building.  Detroit Public Schools had even gone the extra mile to catch these “scrappers” in the act by placing motion-sensor cameras inside the buildings.  Both measures couldn’t stop all the scrapping and Cleveland was hit pretty hard.  Detroit Public Schools decided to sell Cleveland Junior High School, so they put the school up for sale.

Cleveland Junior High School sat vacant, but for sale for a few more years until a charter school finally purchased Cleveland in 2012.  The charter school, Frontier International Academy, began to renovate the school imediately.  Things finally started to look good for the former Cleveland International School, until Frontier International Academy got into some trouble.  During the school’s renovations, the new owners decided to keep “guard” dogs in the school to ward off any scrappers or trespassers that dared to enter the school.  This was a terrible idea as neighbors soon began to complain that there was constant barking coming from the building and the dogs would sometimes get out of the building and chase people on the street.  It all came to head when the two dogs got out of the building and nearly mauled a woman to death. An off-duty police officer saved the woman’s life by shooting the dogs and scaring them off.  Police followed the blood trail into the school where they eventually found the dogs.  The dogs had to be put down because their living conditions were horrific and this had caused the dogs to become aggressive and viscious.  The case is still being settled in court.  This tragic incident, however, did not stop Frontier International Academy from opening in the fall of 2013.

As of 2015, Frontier International Academy is up and running smoothly.