August 11, 2011

The Benjamin Franklin School

This month I thought it would be good to share a photograph from a building in North Corktown. Below is an image of the Franklin School, which used to stand on 7th Street (now called Brooklyn) just south of Pine Street. The photo was taken in 1881.

Courtesy of the Burton Historical Collection, Detroit Public Library (Source)

Construction began on the Seventh Street School (as it was originally called) in 1865 and was completed by the summer of 1866. It was two stories tall and contained six rooms and a basement. The Gothic-style building was designed by the English-born architect Gordon W. Loyd, whose other designs include Central United Methodist Church (1866) and the David Whitney House (1894). The contractor was Aaron C. Fisher. In February of 1867 the school's name officially changed to the Franklin School, after Benjamin Franklin.

This is the school's location as it appeared in an 1885 atlas of the city;


Although the school was built to accommodate the increasing demand for public schooling in the Eighth Ward, it soon proved inadequate. The schools were so crowded by 1899 that the Franklin School was demolished and replaced by a twelve-room building designed by the architecture firm Malcomson & Higginbotham. The new school was to be named in honor of Hervey Coke Perke, the recently-deceased co-founder of the pharmaceutical company Perke-Davis. By the following year, however, the name Franklin was restored by popular demand, and the name Harvey C. Parke was given to a new school on the east side of the city.

The New Franklin School, c. 1910 (Wayne State University)

The new Franklin School is visible in this 1949 aerial photograph. Roll your cursor over the image to see what the area looks like today.

Rollover Image
1949 photo courtesy of DTE.