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Southwestern High School (Michigan)

Southwestern High School was a high school in Southwest Detroit, Michigan, USA. It is part of the Detroit Public Schools district. The school's area, Southwest Detroit, has the majority of Detroit's Latino population.[1] The school was located in a three-story building.[2] It closed in 2012.

Southwestern High School
Southwestern High School (Detroit).jpg
6921 W. Fort Street

United States
Coordinates42°18′11″N 83°06′31″W / 42.3031°N 83.1086°W / 42.3031; -83.1086Coordinates: 42°18′11″N 83°06′31″W / 42.3031°N 83.1086°W / 42.3031; -83.1086
TypePublic secondary
School districtDetroit Public Schools
Number of students580

The school served Boynton–Oakwood Heights, Delray, and Springwells[3] from September 1916 until June 2012.



John A. Nordstrum High School was built in 1915 and began its first semester in September 1916, although the desks had yet to arrive. They were still within a railroad boxcar that had been lost within Detroit's vast railyards. But it was overcrowded within a few years so Southwestern High School was built beside it, with the recent high school to become an intermediate school.

Southwestern was designed with a gymnasium, swimming pool, extensive track and field space, and an auditorium. It was one of the first schools developed following Michigan's enactment of statutes requiring mandatory attendance at high school. The students of adjoining Nordstrum attended the dedication of Southwestern in April 1922, and began using the building immediately, although the first regular classes began in September 1922. The January 1923 yearbook was called the Sou'wester.[4]

The growth in Detroit's student population was so rapid, Nordstrom simply became a wing of Southwestern used mainly by ninth and tenth grade students, with the most advanced classes held in the newer building.

In a period prior to 1955, Southwestern was one of the schools serving high school students from the Allen Park School District. That year, Allen Park High School in Allen Park opened.[5]

In the 1980s Guam-born Manny Crisostomo, working for the Detroit Free Press, received permission from the DPS superintendent to photograph the inside of the school, including the students. He took photographs for 40 weeks, and based on these photographs he won the 1989 Pulitzer Prize Feature Photography Award.[6]

Chadsey High School closed in 2009 and its neighborhoods became part of the Southwestern zone. Population decline continued in Detroit, and specifically in the quantity of schoolchildren in neighborhoods served by Southwestern High School. For several years the district considered closing Southwestern. Robert Bobb, who served as the Detroit Public Schools emergency manager, had almost closed Southwestern. By February 2012 the school district announced that it had plans to close Southwestern at the end of the school year. Several protesters challenged the school closing proposal. Aaron Foley of MLive said that the protesters were concerned about a loss of bilingual education employees and fears of a rivalry with students at Western International High School.[1] The school closed in June 2012. Its neighborhoods were apportioned between Northwestern High School and Western International for summer school and the start of the fall semester in September 2012. The school's contents were auctioned using the internet in October 2012. DPS officials said that making the sale online would save $85,000 of school funds.[2]

By 2014 scrappers and vandals had attacked the closed Southwestern campus.[7]


The campus has 245,000 square feet (22,800 m2) of space. In 2002 a replacement pool was built for $1.25 million.[7]


As of 2000 the school offered training programs in business-oriented technical skills and by that year it included a computer-assisted design computer center. Students were able to take internship and work and school cooperative programs. In 2000 the school did not offer skilled manufacturing and trade courses.[8] These courses were offered at five different technical centers in Detroit, and interested students would arrive to their regular school early and board buses bound for a technical center. That year the technical schools had limited numbers of recruitment information available in Spanish, the primary language of many students at Southwestern.[9]

Notable alumniEdit


  1. ^ a b Foley, Aaron. "Closing southwest Detroit schools would be devastating, protesters say." MLive. Saturday February 25, 2012. Retrieved on November 1, 2012.
  2. ^ a b Satyanarayana, Megha. "Contents of Southwestern High School go up for sale online today." Detroit Free Press. October 18, 2012. Retrieved on November 1, 2012.
  3. ^ Detroit Public Schools (2011). "DPS high school boundary map" (PDF). Archived from the original on July 25, 2011. Retrieved November 20, 2011.CS1 maint: Unfit url (link)
  4. ^ Sou'wester January 1923 Yearbook ( subscription website)
  5. ^ Broglin, Sharon. Allen Park. Arcadia Publishing, 2007. ISBN 0738551090, 9780738551098. p. 41.
  6. ^ Fischer, Heinz-Dietrich. Picture Coverage of the World: Pulitzer Prize Winning Photos (Volume 2 of Pulitzer Prize panorama). LIT Verlag Münster, 2011. ISBN 3643108443, 9783643108449. p. 148.
  7. ^ a b Burns, Gus. "Scrappers decimate Detroit's Southwestern High School just two years after it closed." MLive. March 13, 2014. Retrieved on November 15, 2015.
  8. ^ Brooks, Ann. Alternative Uses for Wolverine Tube and Beard/Chatfield Brownfield Sites (Archive). University of Michigan Urban and Regional Planning. April 26, 2000. p. 40. Also posted at Google Books (in snippet view form).
  9. ^ Brooks, Ann. Alternative Uses for Wolverine Tube and Beard/Chatfield Brownfield Sites (Archive). University of Michigan Urban and Regional Planning. April 26, 2000. p. 41. Also posted at Google Books (in snippet view form). Also in: Brooks, Ann, Steve Gutterman, Christina Kelly, Megan Masson, Kathryn Whiteman, and Moira Zellner. Planning for brownfield redevelopment in southwest Detroit. University of Michigan. p. 41.
  10. ^ "RIP Martha Glaser December 3, 2014". Jazz News You Can Use. Retrieved 2017-02-04.
  11. ^ Niederberger, Mary (June 15, 2015). "Jazz musician Erroll Garner's materials donated to Pitt library". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved September 2, 2015.
  12. ^ Dawsey, Chastity Pratt. "Charter high school founded by Jalen Rose changes direction, staff heading into its second year" (Archive). Detroit Free Press. September 3, 2012. Retrieved on June 30, 2014.

External linksEdit