George W. Ferris school reflects the rapid increase and decrease the city of Highland Park experienced with the automotive boom and bust.
Ferris elementary school was built in 1911 to cope with the overwhelming number of students arriving in the city each day, brought by their parents as they sought work at Henry Ford's Model T plant. Even before construction had been completed it was clear that there wasn't going to be enough classroom space at Ferris, so in 1913 two additional wings were built on at either end of the school. A gym and swimming pool were added in 1924.
Ferris switched from being an elementary school to a middle school in 1960. The last addition onto the school building was a combination cafeteria / auditorium, or "cafetorium" built onto the western wing. The library and cafeteria were moved from the main building into rooms separated by a glass atrium. Presumably around this time is when the auditorium was converted into the music room.
Like other schools in Highland Park, Ferris went into a decline in enrollment numbers that it never recovered from, and closed in the late 90's. There were tentative plans to re-open Ferris in 2001 according to Highland Park's 1999 master plan for the city, but the number of students in the school district continued to drop.
Vacant now for at least 12 years, the school has been scrapped and stripped of everything of value. The atrium, once a well-tended garden is now completely overgrown, with vines and tree branches spreading into the library and cafeteria.
Two other vacant Highland Park Schools were demolished in 2012, and while Ferris is supposed to be demolished next, no work has started yet.