Dexter Ferry School

October 2009.

In addition to the time I allotted for Maryland & Philadelphia; I also added a few extra days to spend in the Greater Detroit area.

During one of those days, we got a late start, but we still had enough time to get in something new before nightfall.

The 1922 Dexter Ferry elementary school was recently in the news as one of the 14 Detroit schools to be demolished, so I encouraged the group to head east and give it another try this day.

We had decided against Ferry earlier this week, when we drove by and witnessed 4 kids walking past with 3 baseball bats. As much as I joked about them going to play baseball, the group asked why they needed 3 bats for baseball...aaaaaand we postponed on the school.

Since it was on the demolition list, I was determined to give it another shot before leaving Detroit.

Dexter M. Ferry Jr. was president of the Ferry-Morse Seed Company and chairman of the Michigan Republic Party in 1897.

Above is the attractive main entranceway to the school. Of the 10 buildings on the revised demolition list, it would be a toss up between Ferry & Sherrard for the most attractive. I've been moderately pleased with the new school demolition lists, which have limited the number of impressive schools and focused on the more modern ones; but schools like Ferry - burnt and in one of the most desolate, arson frequented neighbourhoods in the city - still made the list.

This school used to be heavily boarded - to the extent where we used to contemplate one missing board at the second story - but during this trip & during the summer, I noticed the sudden absence of board replacement or any other maintenance.

Wide open to the elements, into the auditorium we went; using desks to help us get down from the windowsill.

The school has one side with maintained houses; but it otherwise surrounded by several of those special Detroit charred half houses.

During the years that we've been going to Detroit, it has been noticeable how nearby Chene Street has went from run-down to plain desolate - really showing how some locals must handle their abandoned buildings with fire; until the city eventually tears them down, or they catch fire enough times to burn completely to the ground.

A look at the main entrance from the inside.

Some of the woodwork on the first floor was remarkable, but mostly, the school was decimated rooms and school supplies strewn about.

As I moved to the second floor, I found myself taking pictures of the surrounding area instead of the blackened rooms.

As the rain continued to fall from the sky, no one wanted to join me on the roof.

Dedicated to getting some pictures not long for this world, I got my camera wet while the others wouldn't.

This picture is of the cupola above the main entranceway. Since the neighbourhood isn't dominated by streetlights, I was doing 8 and 10 second exposures; trying to stand still while hovering my hand like an umbrella over the camera as it rested on the tripod.

(I had to stand still because the roof had that sheet covering which squishes and moves as one unit if you move your feet.)

Another item working against this neighbourhood is the proximity to the odorous City of Detroit garbage incinerator - which you can see glowing along with the night sky...right next to the cold storage warehouse, which isn't the most pleasant smelling structure either.

The last thing that I wanted to capture at Ferry was this interesting staircase which led up to some second floor classrooms.

I loved the simple and pleasing woodwork; along with the unique area created by the windows overlooking the main hallway.

Anyway, I could hear the group from the staircase & I would soon rejoin them as they waited in the hallway, ready with their questions of why I'm so interested in schools - a question which I can't answer, much like you can't explain why you like the rain or why you like a particular sporting club.

We moved down a floor, checked for any third basemen or short stops outside, before going on our way.

Of the 10 schools on that revised demolition list, 5 are already gone; while Ferry Elementary & 4 others still stand. The demolition contracts were actually given to competent companies instead of Kwame buddies, so it has been strange to actually see these schools demolished quickly, efficiently and safely.

The demolition list is to be completed between April & June, so Ferry Elementary will be gone soon enough.

Ferry Falcons.



1 - Dexter M. Ferry - Wikipedia


Go Home