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Barnum School
Birmingham, MI
MW Institutions | Barnum School | MW Retrolook

Many thanks to Richard Weiss for photos and information below.

 

Barnum School
Birmingham, MI
Photos and info courtesy Richard Weiss

Soon to be another blank lot is the site of Barnum School in Birmingham, MI. The fence of doom already surrounds the building as the City of Birmingham plans to demolish the school to build a a park.

Unlike most demos, this building is still in immaculate condition. Originally, there was talk about demolishing only the 1960's addition, but then it was decided the entire building must go. A group has fought hard to keep the original 1912 portion, but if Tiger Stadium or the Pontiac Asylum are to be our guide, it is a vain attempt. Seems that if it is in the hands of state or local government, it really doesn't matter what the public wants and the bulldozer is the only solution. So as our heritage continues to be eradicated we can say hello to another empty lot. These photos were taken around June 2008. 07-08

 

UPDATE 02/10 : The entrance you see here is all that remains regardless of the fight the people put up to save the building. The Barnum School building was in perfect condition but due to government's decision, another piece of history has been lost.

(Far left) The entrance to the Barnum School prior to the start of demolition

(Near left) Pieces chopped off the top of the entranceway

When it was first announced that the city was going to demolish Barnum school, a group pleaded to save at least the original 1910 portion, The city said it would cost too much to cut away the additions.

 

In these pictures, you can see how for the first time since 1927 the original school building was beginning to emerge from the rubble of the 1927 addition. The picture from September 28 shows the original Barnum School sign and the Barnum sign over the entrance of the 1927 addition. I took this one in the afternoon so it is backlit making it look like an overcast picture.

Barnum school sign
Birmingham, MI
Photo courtesy Richard Weiss

 

I went back a few days later. September 28 and saw the entire 1910 school was now visible, this with out any effort on the demolition crew to "Carve away the newer additions" and save the original building. Again this view had not been seen since 1927 meaning it is unlikely anyone alive had ever seen it.

 

Rubble
Photo courtesy Richard Weiss

 

Unfortunately on this day we experienced the remnants of Hurricane Fay which gave us drizzle and gray skies so I was not able to complete the series on a sunny day. This was labor day weekend and I left for vacation later that day. When I got back Monday evening, all that remained was a pile of rubble, I had hoped they would have removed the rubble from the already demolished portions before hammering on the original.

 

The old postcard on the left show what the original building looked like and what the group wanted it to look like again.

The other picture is from the rear, it shows now only the original building standing. 02-10

 

Here are more photos of the Barnum School.

 

Barnum School Demolition
Photo courtesy Richard Weiss

Barnum School Demolition
Photo courtesy Richard Weiss

Barnum School Demolition
Photo courtesy Richard Weiss

 

UPDATE 11/13 : The site of the Barnum School has been converted into a park. The old entranceway still stands at the front of the park in tribute to the old historic school. 11-13

 

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© Copyright 1998-2017 Syd Nagoshi. All rights reserved. No portion of this document may be reproduced, copied or revised without written permission of the author.