all who wander are not lost

Wilbur Wright High School, 1929 – new addition, 1941. This building was decommissioned by Detroit Public Schools and originally had some interest in redevelopment. That faded quickly and now the structure has been left open to elements, graffiti and scrappers. Originally a technical school, Wilbur Wright was a school of performing arts in its final days.

An ironic poster left over from its final days.

The halls and classrooms are now stripped of everything that resembled a school. I crept in, alert to the unnerving sounds of scrappers and their tools working hard on the buildings carcass.

Once inside, I was comforted by the tag of good friend and fellow explorer Nailhed. A tag which usually echoes my footsteps where ever I explore.

The remaining school murals tell a sad tale of an institution that had once taught gifted children music, art and dance.

Water gushes through many parts of the building.

After climbing to the third floor, I found what I came here for.

One of the shop class rooms that my father-in-law learned his machinist skills in. Ive been told many stories about old Wilbur Wright, and the place sounds like it was brilliant. Actually it sounds like exactly what the DPS needs today. My father-in-law learned drafting and mathematics and hands on machine skills along with his other academics at WW. That knowledge and those skills have carried him all the way through to a retirement from the Ford Motor Company.

Recently he listed off all the various machines they had to work with at WW – and here they are, still sitting where he used them as a teenager.

Walls torn open by scrappers seeking valuable copper. Perhaps they were dismayed to find only worthless galvanized pipe. These people are a cancer to buildings, destroying entire walls to get at a few cents worth of scrap metal.

One last view of the soon to be demolished Tiger Stadium as I left the building – the sound of the scrappers was getting closer, and I need to secure my exit.

Rest easy Wilbur Wright. Hopefully they will demolish this building soon, and put it out of its current misery.

8 Responses to The death of Wilbur Wright

  • My shop teacher, Mr Lovstedt would on occasion “borrow” one of those milling machines which were even ancient back in 55, and mill out precision miniature parts for his model trains.. Heat treating was also taught by Mr Wiemer,3rd fl.
    WW unique in-that you went to school for two weeks, then out in industry to work for two weeks, How practical was that !!!!

  • Minor correction to my prior post:Briggs Stadium sits off Michigan of course…My trip to WW involved both Gratiot & Michigan streetcars…And..
    I actually WALKED home one day which was 7-mile Mound Rd area…..WHEW !
    Again-super job on WW photo’s !

  • Attended 1954-56 and took machine shop and spent many hrs on those 2 milling machines in corner.
    Many, many fond memories (Lucy’s donut shop across street) and passing Briggs stadium in Gratiot streetcar each day for 3 years !!
    Thank you for great (SAD) PHOTO’S…

  • Scrappers hit all types of buildings, including Motor City Casino and MGM. Those two jobs were a bit surprising considering the security and cameras that casinos have-but no one ever admits an inside job.

    On jobs I have been at recently scrappers have taken copper pipe that was placed in trusses 30 feet off the ground in 20 foot long segments. They have cut underground electrical wire at the floor, cut installed, tested and insulated pipe out of walls and slide the insulation off into piles, one person decided to explode their head in an attempt to take live 13/2 wire.

    Old metal window frames can be a combination of zinc, magnesium and aluminum and on a building the size of a school the scrap value would add up quickly.

  • my uncle is big into machining…i think he would cry if he saw all those machines sitting there going to waste like that.

  • Thats too bad about those machines. I would have loved to pick up that arbor press. I guess the city didnt need to make a few bucks off this stuff. Speaking of which, If these buildings are just going to get “scrapped” why doesnt the freaking city take advantage of the stuff the scrappers apparently want. What a waste.

  • I dont know who took the windows out – I do know that scrappers usually go for those frames. Theres also emergency caution tape in all the windows -I guess to keep scrappers, squatters and grafitti people from tumbling out ?

  • What (another) waste. Didn’t the city take the windows out (sure death) or was that the scrappers?