Fredrick Douglass Academy High School is located on the corner of Chene and Leland in Detroit. This was our second stop after exploring Greenfield Park Elementary on May 24th, 2014. I was here two years ago and immediately noticed more overgrowth since that time. It would seem Mother Nature had decided to reclaim this land as her own once again.
There is little space inside the school that hasn’t been demolished and ripped apart by vandals. Holes the size of a large car were found in several sections. Other sections, like the wall and large windows where the library used to be, are no longer even there. If I hadn’t seen pictures of the library, gymnasium, or courtyard from 2008(?) I wouldn’t have even known what they used to look like. The entire sections of the walls seemed to have disappeared. Tree branches have reached inside of the corridors and engulfed the courtyard entirely. Originally built in 1962, the school used to be called Knudsen Jr. High School before changing its name to Fredrick Douglass Academy and becoming an all-male population. Eventually, the program outgrew the school in 2007 and has been vacant ever since. This school remained in use for 45 years.
When we walked in through the library I wasn’t sure if I saw more trees or concrete. Little is left of the foundation except for the skeleton that holds it together. The bookshelves were all smashed and toppled over onto what used to be the floor. Getting in a bit further breaking right we noticed the gymnasium stage still standing but the tile floor below it smashed to bits and was overgrown with green moss.
Thanks to there being large sections missing and falling apart, the hallways were pretty much all well-lit. At first glance this gave me a surreal experience seeing blue skies and green trees just feet away, practically reaching inside. The combination of lush greens and organic life outside this long-standing stage of urban decay made it an experience that was unique. Perhaps the most visually stimulating experience to see was the gymnasium filled with graffiti, still protected by all four walls and lit with even lighting all around like some sort of museum.After this school, we went to our final destination, the now-vacant Detroit Water & Sewerage Central Yard.