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Hamtramckans Vote on Preservation of Historic School Buildings

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By Serena Maria Daniels
By now Hamtramckans are likely aware of today's election in which they're being asked to approve a 4-mill tax proposal to raise money to improve the school district's campuses. The red or blue "repair our school" signs are posted on front lawns. School officials say the proposed millage could bring in $750,000 a year for the next 10 years, money that would help the district make needed repairs at each of its six campuses.

These campuses have quite the history behind them. Holbrook Elementary School, for example, was built in 1896 and is believed to be the oldest continually used school house in the state of Michigan. Hamtramck High School has been around since 1935, its classrooms have perhaps had the most languages spoken inside than them. And Superintendent Thomas Niczay says people often mistake the architecture of the campus that houses Dickinson West Elementary and Kosciuszko Middle schools as the work of iconic Detroit designer Albert Kahn.

We decided to take a look for ourselves. Despite water damage coming from some of the ceiling tiles and crumbling of some drywall, these institutions seem to have stood the test of time. The high school's auditorium features Art Deco-style chandeliers. Tile mosaics complements its hallway water fountains. Holbrook, with its split-level layout, has classrooms in the basement, a design detail that seems to be unique to the district. And if you look closely at the entrance of West Dickinson/Kosciuszko, you'll noticed stone gargoyles looking down at you.

Take a look at the gallery and tell us what you think: should property tax payers foot the bill to help ensure that these architectural gems are preserved, or should they go the way of so many other Detroit-area school houses?
UDATE (5-7): The milage passed, though just barely.

· Push is on for school building repair millage [Ham Review]