Willard School / Highland Park Adult Education / Bright Center

On the corner of Hamilton Avenue and the Davison Freeway in Highland Park stands what is left of Willard Elementary School. Named for the social purity worker Frances Willard, the school was built in the early 1910's to serve the growing student population of Highland Park. Like Detroit, Highland Park expanded rapidly due in large part to the arrival of the automotive industry, causing strain on the school system. By 1916 the school was already crowded, and an addition on the south part added classrooms and a kindergarden. Even as the new wing was being finished, plans were being drawn up for another addition on the north side of the school, which was completed around 1920. The north wing added more classrooms, a small auditorium, two gymnasiums, and a swimming pool.

The fortunes of Highland Park faded in the 60's and 70's, leaving the district's schools underutilized. Willard was eventually converted into an adult education facility called the Bright Center, where students could get a G.E.D., or study cosmetology, computers, or nursing. This operated until at least 1995 or 1996. It's not clear when the school closed for good.

Demolition of Willard / HP Adult Education started in July of 2012.