St. David Catholic parish was established in 1919. Ground was broken for a parish school in 1923, and the school was built in two units over 1924 and 1925. By the 1950's there were nearly 3,000 families attending St. David, and it was decided to build a new high school across the street from the existing school. Fundraising for the new school started in 1957, and the school was completed in 1959.
The neighborhood began to deteriorate in the 1970's, and many of the parishioners moved to the suburbs. The newer high school closed first, in 1971. The older elementary building remained open until 1989, when many parishes and schools closed.
After only 12 years of use, St. David High was vacated and put up for sale. In 1973, Detroit Public Schools leased the building and began using it as the Region 7 Middle School and service center annex. It was renamed Rosa Parks Middle School in the early 1980's, and the district bought the building outright in 1989.
By the early 2000's, Parks school and the neighborhood around it had declined significantly. A new addition built in 1997 was so poorly constructed that it lacked ventilation ducts, and the heating and cooling systems never worked properly. Classes were dimly lit because the contractor had used a proprietary type of fluorescent light bulb available only through the company, and then stopped doing business with the district. A 2002 investigation by the Detroit News found roaches, rodents, and fire damage that had gone unrepaired for years.
In 2005, two schools - Elmdale Conservatory and Fine and Performing Arts Academy East - closed and relocated to Rosa Parks. The school was renamed for Duke Ellington, coincidentally on the same day that Rosa Parks passed away. Ellington moved to the Beckham building in 2013, leaving the former St. David High vacant. After a brief period of vacancy, the school was leased to a nearby church, which has been using it as a community center.
In September of 2016, the school was heavily damaged by a suspicious fire, forcing the community center to close.