City of Detroit, DPSCD team up to save 37-year-old mosaic from abandoned school

She called it the "best surprise ever!" after spying the photo of her first community service art project.

A mosaic of flowers created nearly 40 years ago with her third, fourth and fifth grade art students at Monnier Elementary on Detroit's west side, Debra Anderson Graham was blessed with a rush of nostalgia earlier this March.

The school has been abandoned for over ten years and while part of the building began to decay, the mosaic was left hanging on the wall.

"When I saw the picture and one of the students sent me the picture he had seen it hanging on the wall and I hadn't seen it in 30 years, I couldn't believe it looked so beautiful. And that it was all together." said Graham.

The mosaic was found after a photo surfaced online that was taken by Anthony Garrison, an urban explorer, photographer and former student of Graham's; he said the whole experience was inspiring.

FOX 2 reached out to the City of Detroit and the Detroit Public Schools Community District to ask if they could help Graham with her request to retrieve the mosaic from the shuttered school and find it a new home in one of the district's current schools.

The City, eager to make the request a reality, sent Detroit Building Authority contractors to the school to safely remove the mosaic from the wall Thursday, which was then delivered to its new home, Coleman A. Young Elementary School, also on the City's west side.

Graham is retiring at the end of the school year from Thurston High School in the South Redford School District. She's spent more than 35 years teaching art in Michigan. While she's completed many mosaics with her students, the first one for her is special.

"Kids will ask me 'Do you remember that work of art I did?' or 'Do you remember that drawing I did?' and yeah, of course I do," Graham said. "It just surprised me that it's still there."