Project Description

Grayling Elementary School was built in 1917 and was located at 744 West Adeline Street at the corner of Bauman Street in Detroit’s State Fair neighborhood, on the city’s east side.  Grayling Elementary School was a brick, three-story structure that was designed by the architectural firm of Van Leyen, Schilling, & Keoughin in a modern renaissance style.  Grayling Elementary School was named after the Grayling Trout, a beautiful fish found in Michigan rivers.  The city of Grayling, Michigan also bears the same namesake.  Alumni and former students of Grayling Elementary School were known as the “Grayling Bulldogs,” as their school mascot was a bulldog.  Grayling Elementary School was a property of the Detroit public Schools system.

Grayling Elementary School was “flagged” for closure by Detroit Public Schools due to low enrollment and low functioning.  It also didn’t help that a large fire in 1999 had damaged the school and caused over a million dollars in damage.   Grayling Elementary School never fully recovered from fire, and when both test scores and enrollment dropped, it was apparent that Grayling Elementary School was in deep trouble.  Throughout the school’s early years, Grayling had a steady enrollment above 550 students.  By 2004, the enrollment at Grayling Elementary School had dropped to just over 200 students.

In 2005, Grayling Elementary School was forced to close it’s doors for good.  Grayling Elementary School was a unique school in the fact that it received both brown-boards and Vacant Property Security (VPS) by Detroit Public Schools.  When Grayling Elementary School first closed, Detroit Public Schools (DPS) secured the school with large, brown-wooden boards.  DPS covered all of the doors and windows of Grayling Elementary School with these boards.  The problem was that there was no way that wooden boards were going to keep scrappers out of the buildings.  Over time the wooden boards would warp, bend, crack, and break and then they were even easier to remove.  Grayling Elementary School’s boards stayed strong over the first few years, but eventually scrappers made their entrance in the back of the school.  Several of the wooden boards were removed and the school had become rather easily accessible.  When DPS converted their vacant property security to the VPS metal sheets, Grayling Elementary School’s first floor was covered in the VPS metal sheets.  VPS was supposed to be the new answer to the same old problem.  VPS actually worked too….for about a year or so.  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.  Grayling Elementary School was no exception.

In 2010, Grayling Elementary School was featured in the Detroit News in a segment about scrappers looting the former school, as well as other vacant DPS schools.  At time the article was published, the VPS metal sheets at Grayling Elementary School began to slowly disappear and the school was eventually blown wide-open.

In 2013, Grayling Elementary School was finally demolished.

As of 2015, an empty lot sits where Grayling Elementary School stood proud for so many years.


Grayling Elementary School in 2009:


Grayling Elementary School in 2011:


Grayling Elementary School in 2012: