DETROIT (WXYZ) — A vacant school on the city's northwest side has long been an eye sore for many Detroiters.
Thursday demolition started, after years of loud calls from neighborhood groups to tear down the old Pitcher Elementary building on Pembroke near Stahelin.
“We don’t like blight. If there’s not a use for the building, we wanted it to be a community center," said Patt Taylor Braxton, president of O’Hair Park Community Association.
A community center in place of the school never came to fruition, so the next best thing for neighbors was to tear the school down, Braxton said.
"We’re hoping that it will stabilize the community and maybe cut down on some crime," said Latrice McClendon, Detroit's district manager for district one.
The land will be incorporated into the O'Hair Park, which currently sits behind the school's property.
Here’s a photo of some of the Pewabic Pottery tiles the city saved from the old Pitcher School building @wxyzdetroit ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/iapbGgF2mw— Jenn Schanz (@JennSchanzWXYZ) June 27, 2019
Jennifer Pettway attended Pitcher in the early 1980s. She had mixed feelings about seeing the school go.
“It’s sad. I met some of my best friends here, we’re all still friends. It’s bittersweet because there are so many memories there. But it’s also a great thing because they’re going to turn it into a park and we need more things in the community," she told 7 Action News.
Pitcher holds more than memories; it also holds important pieces of Detroit history in its very walls.
“Pewabic has put their tiles throughout the school. And we requested those tiles so that we could preserve the memory of pitcher school," said Braxton.
The city said it spent around $30,000 to salvage the tiles it could. The rest couldn't be saved due to asbestos.
The tiles that were saved will be re-purposed, and used in the park behind the school.
The demolition is expected to take around two weeks to complete