St. Agnes Catholic School

The early success of St. Agnes Catholic Church led to two problems: first, the temporary church building in use since 1914 was too small, and second, a proper school was needed for the new families coming to the area.

Construction on a school began in 1915. The gothic-style building, designed by architects Edward C. Van Leyen and Edward A. Schilling, was largely completed by June of 1917. That fall the school opened with 180 students in grades one through eight. The basement served as an auditorium and temporary church while the permanent sanctuary was built next door. By the 1920’s there were over 800 elementary and high school students enrolled at St. Agnes, a reflection of how quickly the area had grown. After the new church was completed in 1922, the basement was converted into more classrooms, and an addition to the school in 1927 added a library and still more classrooms.

In 1958 St. Agnes became the city’s main high school for girls after Blessed Sacrament school closed, but enrollment was already dropping. The high school closed in 1967, the same year that the neighborhood was heavily damaged by riots. The grade school continued until 1971 before it too closed.

After closing the school was leased to the University of Michigan. In 1980 it became the Rosa Parks Community Art Center, offering classes in art, music, and dance to residents. By 1983, however, it had been forced to move out due to problems with the heating system.