Project Description

James Ruddiman Middle School was originally built in 1922, but had a large addition that featured more classrooms, an auditorium, and a gymnasium was built in 1956.  Ruddiman Middle School was located at 7350 Southfield Freeway, near the corner of West Warren Avenue, in Detroit’s Warrendale neighborhood on the city’s west side.  The original 1922 building was a dark-brick, two-story section that was designed in Romanesque style.  The 1956 addition was a more modern, light-brick, two-story structure that was added onto the original 1922 building.  Ruddiman Middle School housed an average of 500 students from the sixth grade through the eighth grade.  Ruddiman Middle School was named after James Ruddiman, who was a local farmer, property owner (the site where Ruddiman was built), and was the husband of Henry Ford’s sister, Margaret Ford (Ruddiman).  Alumni and former students of Ruddiman Middle School were known as the “Ruddiman Raiders,” as their school mascot was a raider (pirate).  Ruddiman Middle School was a property of the Detroit Public School system.

In 2002, Ruddiman Middle School became the Cody 9th Grade Academy, in effort to keep the larger 9th grade classes separate from the rest of the students in grades 10-12 at nearby Cody High School.  It was a last-ditch effort to try and repurpose Ruddiman Middle School, but it was short lived.

In 2009, Cody 9th Grade Academy was the scene of a shooting that left seven students injured.  The students were standing in front of the school and were waiting for the bus when two masked-men opened fire on the crowd.  Luckily, nobody died and the police ended up catching the two men responsible for the shooting.  The shooting had a drastic impact on the school and it wouldn’t recover.  In 2010, Cody 9th Grade Academy, also known as Ruddiman Middle School, was closed for good.

When Ruddiman Middle School closed in 2010, Detroit Public Schools (DPS) decided that Ruddiman Middle 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.  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….and is still working today, along with the help of the Videofied camera systems.  Ruddiman Middle School was also chosen by Detroit Public School to receive the latest form of security measures, which consisted of motion-censored video cameras. The cameras, knows as Videofied, were relatively small cameras that would hang on the walls inside the vacant school. When somebody would enter the school, the cameras would be turned on by sensing motion and they would begin recording. The video clips were then sent to Detroit Public Schools Police, who would respond to the proper scene. Videofied was responsible for arresting hundreds of scrappers, trespassers, vandals, and even urban explorers.  The Videofied system was Detroit Public School’s response to the Vacant Property Security (VPS) dilemma.  In some cases, having both VPS and Videofied worked to keep the trespassers out of the building, such as the case of Ruddiman Middle School.  Ruddiman Middle School hasn’t gotten away cleanly, however, as scrappers have made entrance in various places and managed to still scrap some of the school’s piping, fixtures, and amenities.

In 2013, an anonymous tip to Crime Stoppers came in about a dead body inside of Ruddiman Middle School.  When Detroit Police responded to Ruddiman Middle School, they found a body that was decapitated and had been burned beyond recognition.  The only thing that could tell was that it was a male.  After the body was discovered, DPS made special efforts to properly seal Ruddiman Middle School.

As of 2015, Ruddiman Middle School is still abandoned.  The Detroit Public Schools police still keep a close eye on the school and will prosecute anyone that gets caught trespassing on the property.  Unfortunately, there are no current plans for redevelopment, renovations, or the demolition of the former Ruddiman Middle School.