Elizabeth Cleveland Intermediate School was build in 1927 to meet the needs of Detroit's growing population on the northeast side. Designed by the Donaldson and Meier architectural firm in Jacobethan or Elizabethian style, Cleveland boasts intricate stonework including spindles along the roof line and casement windows contrast the solid red brick exterior quite nicely. Inside, classrooms are equipped with sliding chalkboards, and the library features wood panel shelving and a stone fireplace. The layout of the school is a little unusual; though it follows the platoon plan common at the time, the auditorium is oriented along the back of the building, making it longer and thinner than similar schools. Later, a gymnasium and swimming pool were added to the back of the building.
Enrollment at Cleveland peaked in 2002 at 1,251 students, and began falling each year after. By 2006 there were just 672 students, and Cleveland was being considered for closing. After getting feedback from the community, school officials postponed the closing and instead expanded the program from 6th - 8th grade to 6th - 12th, focused on at-risk students.
The reprieve, however, was short-lived. Though enrollment briefly went up, the slide in student numbers continued. Deferred maintenance left the building in poor condition, with over $3.7 million in repairs needed to the heating, windows, roof, and fire alarm system. The decision to close the school in the summer of 2009 disappointed students and parents, some of who left the school district altogether. Over the summer all of the items were removed from the school, and the building was secured.
Cleveland was briefly mentioned in the 2010-2015 Facilites Master Plan for Detroit Schools, phase 2 of which would include demolishing the school to make way for a relocated Pershing High School. This plan was never adopted.
For several years more the school sat vacant, until the winter of 2012 when a charter school bought the property and contractors began clearing debris out the building. By September of 2013 the school had partially reopened as the Frontier International Academy, as work goes on restoring the rest of the building.