Alexander Macomb School

Written by Timothy Boscarino, City of Detroit Historic Designation Advisory Board:

"Macomb school opened February 18, 1929, replacing Trombly School, a one or two room brick building located at the intersection of Conner and Wade Streets. It was named after Alexander Macomb (1782-1841), a Detroit native who served in the War of 1812 and later as Commanding General of the United States Army. Macomb spent much of his career as an officer in the Army Corps of Engineers, where he was responsible for the erection of numerous coastal and frontier fortifications including those at Fort Gratiot, Michigan. He played a role in the United States victory at the Battle of Plattsburgh on Lake Champlain, near the close of the War of 1812. He eventually rose to become the army’s Chief Engineer, from which position President John Quincy Adams, in 1928, promoted him to Commanding General, the highest rank in the United States Army."

"In the 1930s, enrollment at Macomb School approached 800 students, and the school was organized into a sixteen section platoon with one self-contained classroom. By 1955 the student population had declined to 640. In the following years, enrollment declined further, to 533 in 1957, as construction of the Edsel Ford Freeway resulted in the razing of homes and the displacement of residents. In 1958 an “Americanization” class was begun at the school, in response to a high immigrant population in the area. Due to the neighborhood’s stable, and then gradually declining, population, this building was never expanded or significantly altered since its construction."

"Macomb School is one of nine extant school building designs by the Detroit architectural firm N. C. Sorensen & Company. N. Chester Sorensen worked with the firm of Malcomson and Higginbotham in the early to mid-1920s. For two decades, Sorenson’s practice designed Detroit school buildings in a variety of architectural styles, beginning in 1926 with the Spanish Colonial Revival Higginbotham School, and ending with the International Style Ann Arbor Trail School in 1946."

By 2007, the number of students at Macomb had fallen from 580 in 1998 to 296. Though the school was initially slated for closure that year, it got a last-minute reprieve. However, enrollment continued to decline, and the high cost of repairing the building made keeping it open impractical. Macomb closed in May of 2009.