Alice McLellan Birney Elementary School opened in 1964. The main part of the building was added in 1969, which included a gymnasium, library, and auditorium. The classrooms were arranged in a rectangle around the gymnasium and auditorium, with skylights over all of the hallways.
Birney had 500 students in the 1990's, but the neighborhood went into decline. It was first planned to be closed in 2007, but instead stayed open and took in students from other schools nearby that closed. Birney then ended up closing in 2009, with only 230 students.
After closing, Birney was initially supposed to be renovated into the headquarters for the Detroit Public Schools Police Department, but the plan was dropped and a new headquarters was built on the site of Sherrard Intermediate School in 2011.
The school was demolished in March of 2016.