This post was authored by Curbed contributor MJ Galbraith.
Since officials boarded up the Sidney D. Miller Middle School after the 2006-2007 school year, architecture geeks have been nervously pacing back and forth as the uncertainty of another boarded up historic building took its toll. This January, after nearly five years of vacancy, a construction crew all of a sudden showed up with a gate and security guard and started a pretty impressive pile of tear-out. Of course, now everyone's abuzz with curiosity. What's happening? Is another significant Detroit school building getting the loft treatment? The nearby Nellie Leland School went through a similar rehab a few years ago. Miller is a beautiful Jacobethan building within spitting distance of Lafayette Park and Eastern Market, after all. And who bought it? Is Gilbert extending his reach from Downtown? What's he building in there?
Thanks to our friends at Detroiturbex.com we now have an answer. The Sidney D. Miller Middle School has been sold by the Detroit Public Schools ("months ago" according to the DPS real estate office) and is soon to become—drum roll, trumpets, and other loud noises, please—a charter school.
Named to the National Register of Historic Places this past December, the Jacobethan-style building was designed by Malcomson and Higginbotham. Besides being a mouthful, you may remember the duo from such hits as the Henry Ford mansion in Boston-Edison, Wayne State's Old Main, and the original Cass Tech. The school itself opened in 1921 and became the city's de facto African American high school from 1933 to 1957. During this period, the high school routinely placed in the top rankings in both academics and athletics. It became a middle school after the 1957 school year.
Local residents and alumni were devastated to learn the school was closing after the 06/07 school year. Architecture fans have been fighting off the nervous tics and twitches associated with a vulnerable historic building. All can rest easy as the Sidney D. Miller Middle School has been saved.
· Detroiturbex [Official]