Detroit wrecks abandoned school, marks 100th commercial demolition

Charles Hanneman was built in 1916 on McGraw Ave. in Detroit. It was demolished on Friday, Feb. 9, 2024 as part of the city's effort to eliminate blight.

It was a bitter-sweet moment when the Detroit Construction & Demolition Department finished tearing down a historic yet abandoned elementary school on Friday. 

The wrecking of Charles Hanneman Elementary School on Detroit's west side marks the city's 100th commercial demolition since Jan. 2023.

"Mixed feelings," said Miguel Anguo, who attended the school. "It's never going to be there again."

Charles Hanneman was built in 1916 on McGraw Ave. in Detroit. It operated for about 91 years before it was closed in 2007 due to financial issues. 

"We look forward to seeing what this actual site will bring to the community," said Eva Torres with the Detroit Department of Neighborhoods.

The city still has hundreds of abandoned buildings slated for demolition, which is part of an effort to eliminate blight throughout Detroit and work towards revitalization.

"The commercial properties range in categories and types – we do have a significant amount of schools on that list. These are properties that the city has actually owned for several years," said Lajuan Counts from the Detroit Construction & Demolition Department. "This particular property was vacant for over 20 (years)."

Ernestine Gosha has lived near the school for decades; she has some ideas about what she would like to see built there instead.

"A senior citizen apartment," Gosha said. "Places to walk like they do out in Oak Park."