St. Albertus School was a parochial school that was part of the St. Albertus Roman Catholic Church. Although St. Albertus Roman Catholic Church is still in operations (barely), St. Albertus School has been closed and remained abandoned for many years. St. Albertus School was built in 1917 and was located at 4231 St. Aubin Street at the corner of East Canfield Street in Detroit’s former “Poletown” neighborhood. Poletown was located on the Detroit’s east side and was a neighborhood that consisted of mostly Polish immigrants. St. Albertus Roman Catholic Church and St. Albertus School were staples of the Poletown neighborhood and unfortunately are only one of very few that are left. Most of Poletown was demolished in 1981 when the General Motor plant was built.
St. Albertus School was a brick, three-story structure designed by architect Henry J. Hill. When St. Albertus School was regarded as one of the most modern schools in the city. St. Albertus School had large classrooms on all three floors. There was also a large auditorium that was built on the second floor and the balcony was accessible from the third floor. Peak enrollment reached 1,875 students in 1920.
By 1965, Polish immigrants continued to leave the Poletown neighborhood and enrollment at St. Albertus School had dropped down to just over 90 students. Just a few of the twenty-four classrooms were in use. It had became obvious that keeping St. Albertus School open was no longer an option. St. Albertus School was closed in 1966.
After closure, part of the school building was leased to the City of Detroit for the use as job training center for residents, helping the unemployed learn new skills. Unfortunately, this didn’t last long either and St. Albertus School closed for good in 1979. St. Albertus Roman Catholic Church still keeps a close eye on the school as it is located directly behind the church. While it has been closed for nearly 50 years, the importance of St. Albertus School and the role it played in the development of the Poletown neighborhood is still largely significant and will always remain an instrumental part of Detroit’s history.
As of 2015, St. Albertus School is still abandoned. The St. Albertus Roman Catholic Church continues to clean up the site and makes sure that the school is secured on a regular basis.