Project Description

Redford High School was built in 1921 (additions in 1938 and 1948) and was located 21431 Grand River Avenue, at the corner of West McNichols Road, in Detroit’s Old Redford neighborhood, on the city’s west side.  Redford High School was designed by the noted-architectural firm of Marcus R. Burrowes and Frank Eurich.  Redford High School was a massive structure and was Detroit’s second largest school next to the old Cass Tech High School.  Redford High School was made up of six separate buildings, dating from 1920 to 1982, each built onto each other at unusual angles, isolating parts of the school, and making the interior hallways of the school quite difficult to navigate.  Redford High School was a property of Detroit Public Schools.  Alumni and former students of Redford High School were known as the “Redford Huskies,” as their school mascot was a Husky (wolf).

Redford High School was not only an architectural jewel in the community, but Redford also offered outstanding college preparatory classes for its students such as Business Law, Fashion Merchandising, Cosmetology, Information Technology to name just a few of the programs.  Redford High School was also a dominate force in high school sports, achieving many state championships over the years in basketball, football, track, and golf.  Redford High School was a popular school of choice among many of the residents in northwest Detroit.  Enrollment at Redford High School stayed around 3,000 students annually and enrollment remained steady over the years.

Things began to change for Redford High School in the 1990’s, when gang violence, truancy, high maintenance costs, and a decrease in funding had residents looking at other nearby high schools, however, there were still a number of loyal students and residents that remained at Redford High School.  Enrollment had dropped to around 1,500 students, about half of what it once was.  Things were not looking good for Redford High School and Detroit Public Schools had to do something.

In 2006, as the district began discussing closing the school, neighbors and community leaders protested, pointing out that despite its low enrollment and problematic condition, the school was still a central part of the community.  They worried that merging Redford with Ford High School, a longstanding rival would lead to gang violence or cause students to drop out.  Additionally, the school district had just spent $3.9 million on upgrades including new athletic fields and a baseball diamond the year before.  That didn’t stop Detroit Public Schools from making the final decision to close Redford High School in 2007.

After Redford High School was closed in 2007, Detroit Public Schools (DPS) decided that Redford High 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.  In 2008, 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 about a three or four years.  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.  Redford High School was no exception.  Redford High School was VERY difficult to keep secure because of the school’s layout.  Redford High School had many hidden corners, doors, windows, alleys, and sections of the school because of all the additions and adding on to the older sections.  This, coupled with the fact that Redford High School was huge in size, made it near impossible to keep secured at all times.

By 2012, the VPS metal sheets at Redford High 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.  Metal thieves began to loot the building of anything of any value and the school was also damaged by arson in 2012.  By 2012, Redford High School looked like more of an eye-sore than a high school.

In 2012, Redford High School was demolished to make room for a new Meijer.

As of 2015, Meijer is now on the former Redford High School site.

Redford High School in 2011: