New Year’s Eve 2009 was the first time I ever ventured in the abandoned Cass Tech High School in Detroit, Michigan. It’s cold; very cold this morning and I walk in the unlocked front door and it almost feels like my first day in high school again. To me, this school always looked like it belonged in NYC or Chicago and from my understanding it was a great school filled with promising students and excellent teachers. I can tell you even in its neglected abandoned current situation the building is stunning and I wished this was a school I could have went to.
I wish I could write and say the building was empty and stripped down to its core before they demolished it but that would be a lie. I was appalled by all of the stuff left inside the school ranging from students school supplies, art and book supplies and actual school equipment. In the science labs were HUNDREDS of glass beakers that are very expensive. I was hearing rumors of people taking them and selling them like hotcakes on ebay. In the art rooms were a few Khelms and other supplies for pottery. The library was filled with books and tons of classrooms had stacks of books inside of them. I think of all the other schools in Detroit that were lacking supplies and sadly Cass Tech just left all of this to rot.
I checked ebay and sure enough I found a lot of listing from the Metro-Detroit area of science supplies. Some of the listings were actually using pictures from inside the school on their page. I wish I would have taken some screen shots of this but I didn’t.
I am past my rant about Cass Tech and maybe they had their reasons and I am only dealing with my side of the story but it has long bothered me. The rest of this school was an amazing place to explore. I am an industrial nut but I can’t deny how amazing this old school was. From the science labs, to the art rooms and the gun range on the top floor I have never seen a school like this before. I didn’t even mention the pools, photography dark rooms and every other speciality you could think of.
I ventured thru the entire building and spent about 14 hours exploring every corner. I took thousands of frames and thankfully I had packed some food and water. I ran into many people inside from scrappers and other artists. I think back and will always miss this time frame where I made some amazing pictures of Detroit. Almost a decade after I made most of my abandoned photos I am grateful to see the heart of the city changing and filling up with people. I am looking forward to the neighborhoods and the breathe of fresh air they need to recover.