Project Description

Helen Newberry Joy Middle School was built in 1964 and was located at 4611 Fairview Street, near the corner of East Warren Avenue, on Detroit’s east side.  Joy Middle School was a modern, two-story, rectangular building that was actually connected to Brewer Recreation Center.  The Detroit Parks and Recreation Department had a partnership with the Detroit Public Schools so that students could use the recreation centers for physical educational classes, as well as extra-curricular activities.  Students of Joy Middle School used the gymnasium and swimming pool at Brewer Recreation Center.  Helen Newberry Joy was named after a the famous local social work advocate and health care worker.  Alumni and former students of Joy Middle School were known as “Joy Jaguars,” as their school mascot was a jaguar.

Joy Middle School was a successful school, serving students in 6th grade through 8th grade.  Throughout the 1960’s, 1970’s, and the 1980’s, Joy Middle School had an average enrollment that hovered around 1,200 students.  In 2005, enrollment at Joy Middle School was only about 800 students.  Enrollment was not the reason that Joy Middle School was closed, but it was the financial devastation and deficit of the Detroit Public Schools that forced it to close in 2006.

After Joy Middle School was closed in 2006, it was heavily scrapped and was left wide open for anyone to enter.  Detroit Public Schools had closed the school and left everything behind.  All of the school’s furnishings, fixtures, supplies, desks, textbooks, computers, and students records were left behind and in plain sight of anyone who wished to enter the school.  Local media outlets eventually did a report on the failure to secure the vacant Detroit Public Schools.   Joy Middle School was the article’s main feature.  Detroit Public Schools was forced to do something, and their answer would soon lead to them using the Vacant Property Security (VPS) to try and protect their vacant schools.  It was too late for Joy Middle School, but Detroit Public Schools used VPS on other schools in an effort to try to prevent them from having another Joy Middle School on their hands.  The same thing happened with Jane Cooper Elementary School.  Obviously, it was short-lived.

Joy Middle School was demolished in 2009.

As of 2015, an empty field sits where Joy Middle School used to be.