Detroit Urban Lutheran School was once part of a much larger network of Lutheran Schools in the City of Detroit. The first Detroit Lutheran High School opened in 1944 on Grand Boulevard with 168 students. In 1957, two new high schools were built - Lutheran East, and Lutheran West, on Greenfield. A gymnasium was added on in 1971.
Roy David Siefker, or "Principal Dave" as he was called by students and faculty, was born and raised on a farm in Seymour, Indiana. He attended a Lutheran teaching school near Chicago, paying his way through college by working at a barbershop before being assigned to St. Phillip Lutheran Church in Toledo, Ohio in 1966. It was there that he found a passion for teaching in urban schools. At St. Philip he took on many roles, including principal, teacher, coach, bus driver, and preacher. While in Toledo he watched the civil rights movement unfold, with the rise of the black power movement, the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., and the 1967 riots in Detroit.
In February of 1973 he moved to Detroit to start a new independent Lutheran school. Detroit Urban Lutheran School, or DULS, was started at the former Gethsemane Lutheran School on 28th Street. A year later DULS moved into the closed Epiphany Catholic School, where it stayed until the purchase of the former St. Luke Catholic School in 1978. Despite the constant moves, DULS attracted students from across the city. Students from the K-8 program were heavily recruited by some of the top high schools in Detroit, including Cass Tech and Renaissance High.
Despite an overall decline in Lutheran education in Detroit, DULS continued to grow thanks in large part to the quality of its program and the staff. After Detroit Lutheran High West closed in 1995, DULS purchased the building on Greenfield and moved into it, expanding the program to a full K-12.
Principal Dave remained a constant source of stability throughout the entire life of DULS. A 1999 Detroit News article noted that "At any given time of the day, he can be found sweeping the floor, painting the hallways, coaching the junior varsity basketball team, cutting school yard grass or using his barbering skills to give a child a free haircut." But while DULS thrived, other Lutheran schools across the city were closing. By the 2000's, Detroit Urban Lutheran was the last Lutheran school in the city.
In 2010, the district that DULS was part of announced that the school was going to be closing due to financial reasons. The sudden closure left teachers scrambling to pack up what they could before the school closed for good. After consulting with parents and teachers, Principal Dave started a new school for the 2011 school year.
The old Detroit Urban Lutheran School was left vacant after closure, with much of its materials still inside. In 2012, vandals set fire to the school library and another classroom, causing moderate damage. Ownership of the school changed hands several times, and by 2014 was being used by as an Islamic educational center. During this time the school was cleaned up, with most of the debris removed and the classroom materials moved to the cafeteria. A second, more serious fire in August of 2014 destroyed much of the cafeteria.
The current status of the school is not clear. It appears that some sort of remediation work is being done, but the future use is not known.