Winter, Spring & Summer 2008
Jane Cooper was one of the 29 schools that the Detroit Public School Board decided to close in 2007.
At the time of the school closings, I thought it would take at least a couple of years before we would see any explorable return on the decision.
I didn't research any of the locations and we never scouted out any of the closed schools.
That was until December 2007 when I saw Jane Cooper on detroitfunk.com.
(^That detroitfunk link is worth visiting for, if nothing else, to see how much Jane Cooper has gone downhill in the last 6 months).
For some odd reason, I pay little attention to some buildings, but absolutely fall in love with others. Jane Cooper was one of those buildings that I became obsessed with and I immediately took to finding my way inside.
Our scouting mission occurred on a cold, frosty night. Although we usually never do new buildings at night; we especially decided against this one because of the desolate neighborhood and the unfriendly 'Drug
Free School Zone' sign.
I wouldn't be able to get Jane Cooper done before the holidays ended. I considered getting it done en route to Nova Scotia; but decided against parking my car in that neighbourhood while it contained all of my possessions.
(^Looking back from the roof over the teacher's parking lot.
I just ruined the suspense, eh? Because you thought I was going to put a school on here that we hadn't completed successfully.)
Jane Cooper found itself on my short list of places to visit on March Break. I picked up Crawlspace one day and he was down for whatever building I could think of. Jane Cooper came to mind and we drove on over to the East Side.
We parked my car next to a nearby fire department and walked the empty streets towards the gaping school. I got a strange feeling at this point and remembered something about Jane Cooper involving one of my colleagues. I called him and he told me that he wouldn't go near the place.
Crawlspace and I turned around and wrote off Jane Cooper.
Well, Crawlspace did.
Having seen Jane Cooper's rapid deterioration, we became frustrated and more adamant about entering its hallways.
The next attempt included four of us again parking by the fire department, clubbing the steering wheel and walking those empty streets. As we approached the school, we heard loud banging coming from some evident scrapping.
I normally don't mind running into scrappers, but I'm not about to knowingly put myself in a building with them. I think my boy Steve wasn't too keen on the idea either. We went back to the car and Jane Cooper again escaped our attack.
The third March Break trip grew from curiosity and because we were already in the East Side. We found the mint Dodge Ram truck that you see in the above picture - without tires, ignition, radio or airbags. The truck couldn't have been there very long and after laughing at dude's Barry White cassette tape & taking a few pictures, we left Jane Cooper again mystified at this forlorn school.
(The Barry White tape was funny, not dude having his truck stolen.)
It was back to Nova Scotia for me and Jane Cooper moved up the short list even more.
After another 2 months in the Maritimes, it was back home & time for another shot at Jane Cooper. Don & I set out one day to finally get her done. As we drove around the building once, a busted, corroded truck with two ornery looking fellows didn't appear very happy to see us in their 'hood.
It wouldn't have been smart to park the car and head inside. It was another failed shot at Jane.
Jane Cooper resembled swiss cheese more than a school at this point. All of her aluminum windows had been stolen, about 15 ground level boards were gone and she was still not letting us inside?!?
Colleagues had been inside - some of them 2, 3 or 4 times!
It was that point that we sat and contemplated one night.
We decided to stop and take pictures of a hot tub which was dumped there sometime recently. Not a car passed us and we sat on the steps out front in the calm night.
I don't think Don even likes abandoned schools; but I know he doesn't like being denied even more.
Our sixth attempt was finally successful. Much like when you play your weaker friend at chess, they will take some of your pieces, but you WILL end up winning the game.
Jane Cooper may have took a bishop here, a rook there; but she just wasn't skilled enough to put us in checkmate. Dejected and downcast, it was finally time for her to concede defeat.
It was odd to be in the halls.
For such a blown-out, wide-open place in the middle of nowhere, it did rile the nerves more so than the usually relaxed Detroit buildings.
It was strange because the school actually had 'Van Dyke', 'Harper' and other various territorial graffiti.
Jane Cooper is just too wide open and I suppose you wouldn't scuff your Air Forces walking through it.
I really regret not snagging that Michigan map. If only I had my own place.
An odd location to conduct your elementary school education.
This was the east side, the south side had an equivalent view, the west side was of a newer factory and a typical old school Kahn-plex and the north side was probably the worst. The north side view contained a factory far off in the distance and not a house in site amongst the roads closed off by jersey barriers.
Away from finally conquering Jane Cooper, I was looking forward to seeing the auditorium.
That is, until I got inside and realized the scrappers stole all the seats.
By the way, Jane Cooper was an elementary school. Quite a stunning auditorium for an elementary school (more so when it had seats).
If you're wondering why this school sits in the middle of a modern wasteland, it is because they cleared the land surrounding the school for some industrial project that failed to materialize.
The area wasn't in the best shape prior to the planned project land clearing; but having zero structures definitely increases the desolate feel.
It was strange to sit on that roof and imagine a time in the past when this was a dense neighborhood full of houses and businesses. This area is definitely compelling to me, how a 5 block by 5 block piece of land can sit vacant in America's 11th largest city. If it wasn't for how shady the neighborhood can be, and the fact that you scare up pheasants from the grasslands, I'd probably chill atop those jersey barriers more often.
Anyway, there wasn't much time for Jane Cooper, but she didn't require much either. A medium sized elementary school with great lighting doesn't take very long.
We got through the hallways, found the odd entrance to the roof and lamped up there for a minute. We made the most of the conquest by climbing all over that roof to the odd balconies and peaks.
I guess this one was more about a personal vendetta than a quality building.
Update: October 2009 (Copied directly from another update)
Since we were near Jane Cooper, I wanted to check on her progress.
Another jewel lost from the Detroit school crown.
After spending funds to demolish all of the nearby houses long ago, I guess Jane Cooper was the one blockade before all of that industry rushes in to snatch up this land they cleared (for that industrial purpose).
Then again, it's not like Jane Cooper stood a chance. Raped, scrapped, vandalized, desolate, alone. If it wasn't occupied, it was gone - it was only 3 years from closure to rubble.