Project Description

Frederick W. Higgins Elementary was built in 1930 and was located at 9200 Olivet Street, near the corner of Woodmere Street, in Southwest Detroit.  Higgins Elementary School was a brown brick, two-story structure that was designed in Art Deco architectural style by Malcomson and Higginbotham. The school is named after Mr. Frederick W. Higgins, who was the President of Woodmere Village and Woodmere Cemetery, as well as a former treasurer for the City of Detroit (Springwells Township).  Higgins Elementary School served mostly Hispanic students and it had special programs that even included bilingual classes.  Despite the elementary school having decent enrollment over the years, Detroit Public Schools decided to close Higgins Elementary School.  Alumni and former students of Higgins Elementary School were known as the “Higgins Iguanas,” as their school mascot was an iguana.  Higgins Elementary School was a property of Detroit Public Schools.

Higgins Elementary School closed in 2007.  Detroit Public Schools (DPS) decided that Higgins Elementary School was another schools that 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 the 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….for a couple of years anyway.  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.  Higgins Elementary School was no exception.

By 2012, the VPS metal sheets at Higgins Elementary School began to slowly disappear and it seemed that the school was always open at one point of entry or another, whether it was a door or a window.

By 2013, almost all of the VPS metal sheets were gone and the school was left wide-open.  By this point, Higgins Elementary School had lost all of its metal, fixtures, furnishings, and it’s soul.  It became a shell of its former self.

Higgins Elementary School was demolished in 2014.  Plans for the vacant lot include a soccer field or a baseball diamond.

As of 2015, nothing has happened and the lot sits empty.


Higgins Elementary School in 2010:


Higgins Elementary School in 2012: