Cass Technical High School in the Midtown area of Detroit, Michigan, USA was built in the early 1900s and was considered one of the city’s landmarks for much of its life. Originally part of the Detroit Public Schools Community District, it was named after Lewis Cass. He was a governor of Michigan Territory and later a senator for the state of Michigan.
Originally, Cass Technical High School just occupied the third floor of the Cass Union School. A major refurbishment and extension was undertaken in 1985, but by the early 200os, the facilities were outdated and a new, modern facility was built adjacent to the original building on Grand River Avenue.
As a building on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, the original structure was left in place, however a large fire gutted it in 2007. Renovation was deemed impossible and the decision was taken to demolish the building in the interest of public safety.
Cass Technical High School was finally demolished in 2011 after laying abandoned and decaying for a number of years. It joined the long list of abandoned buildings in Detroit as a result of the financial crisis and changes to the motor industry which provided a large number of jobs in the area. Some called it America’s biggest ghost town.
The decision to have the school demolished met with strong opposition given the architectural significance within the surrounding area. There were calls to renovate instead however it appeared that the option might not only be costly but impractical given out-dated utilities. In the end, the school moved to the new building and much of the furniture and fittings were left as they were.
According to Detroit Urbex, the plan was to remove everything but as the years went by, their value depreciated and they were left. Even though the fire ripped through the building in 2007, it was still 4 years before the building was dismantled. You can take a virtual tour of the building in its abandoned state here.
Diana Ross, Lily Tomlin and John DeLorean were among the alumni of Cass Tech. Very sad what has happened to it and Detroit.
I’m a graduate of Cass Tech ‘70-71. Indeed I feel sad and heartbroken of the demise of this grand old building. The memories of when I walked those halls, rushing from gym class in basement level up to the first level to catch the elevated up to the 7th floor, then walking up the stairs to the eighth floor to geometry class. All within 5-6 min before the 2nd bell rang. Whew! Those were the days. I feel very privileged to have been able to attend the prestigious Cass Tech and have the quality high school education it was known for and offered.