By Joyce Moore

Virginia Park CDC Newsletter

February 24, 2014

In March 6, 1922, HUTCHINS school which is located at 8820 Woodrow Wilson, Detroit, MI 48206 opened.  It was built to address the need for an Intermediate School for the 7th and 8th Graders. Most stable communities basically have three (3) schools: an elementary, a middle school (Intermediate) and a high school.

Chess team students at Hutchins-McMichael School in Detroit are: top from left, Larry Foster, Anthony Arnold and Ricardo Brown, all 11; second row from left, Dorrell Tolton, 13, Lamont Gilmore, 12, and Jirrell Echols, 11; and front row from left, Ernikka Johnson and Ashley Lee, both 10. They're joined by coaches Douglas Carey, 55, and Mary Rose Forsyth. They head to Pennsylvania for a championship. Photo taken 2008, one year before school closed in 2009.
Chess team students at Hutchins-McMichael School in Detroit are: top from left, Larry Foster, Anthony Arnold and Ricardo Brown, all 11; second row from left, Dorrell Tolton, 13, Lamont Gilmore, 12, and Jirrell Echols, 11; and front row from left, Ernikka Johnson and Ashley Lee, both 10. They’re joined by coaches Douglas Carey, 55, and Mary Rose Forsyth. They head to Pennsylvania for a championship. Photo taken 2008, one year before school closed in 2009.

Bringing the history more currently, a bond proposal to fund repairs to the city’s schools in 1994 allocated $5.1 million dollars to Hutchins, mostly renovations to the special education wing.  By 2002, enrollment had fallen, but the quality of the educational program had dramatically increased.  Hutchins students placed high at the 2003 National Academic Games and other events.

A new program brought Chess into the classroom, with some students joining associations and taking part in competitions.  In 2006, AOL announces it is creating the “Detroit Academy for Science, Mathematics and Technology AOL Computer Lab at Hutchins Middle School,”  a classroom with 30 computers designed by teachers and student. (Internet)   This alone shows that the school was on the move to being a major asset to our community as well as to the City of Detroit, if only that was the Detroit Board of Education’s  plan.

Student hugs teacher at Hutchins as second waits her turn.
Student hugs teacher at Hutchins as second waits her turn.

The destruction of this once beautiful school and structure has resulted from the major players, [including Emergency Managers Jack Martin and Roy Roberts appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder], and the [previous] Detroit Board of Education and its neglect and politics in saving our schools that impacts upon the stability of our communities.  The fact that Hutchins is not boarded up, has allowed scavengers and scrappers to:  remove windows, doors, plumbing, wiring, any metals, etc. as well as destroy the structure, forcing it to become an eye sore in our community.  The visual sight is a devastation to the many students that attended Hutchins in the past.  It is disheartening to know that the people we have elected to take care of such a school, is neglectful and unconcerned about our community, creating more blight.  This building could have been sold through a realty as opposed to becoming the emotional and physical stress of a community for the many that have attended.

HUTCHINS SCHOOL AFTER/ Photo Feb. 25, 2013

HUTCHINS SCHOOL AFTER/ Photo Feb. 25, 2013

Further by creating “THE AFTER” picture of Hutchins and the age of the school, a destructive situation has exposed the surrounding community to carcinogens that pollute the air that we breathe as the asbestos is openly exposed.  The asbestos is absorbed through our skin, in our lungs and can lead to health issues.  Again not only a neglectful situation but a health hazard and issue to our community.

The bond that involved the $5.1 million property taxes paid by property owners for the renovations to this building is a major issue as property taxes are constantly rising.  Currently, we the tax payers don’t get reimbursed for such a waste and misuse of our property tax monies when the plan changes or fails.  According to a local retired professor, “We the tax payers need to be reimbursed and made whole regarding this audacious assault and violation of community sensibility.”

Across the street from Hutchins today: neighborhoods are destroyed when schools are closed.

Across the street from Hutchins today: neighborhoods are destroyed when schools are closed.

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  1. Don W. Ferrell says:

    Attended Hutchins 56-57 then went on to Cass Technical HS. Highlights were shop (Mr. Kocher?) and band (1st Trumpet and then Solo Trumpet) classes. Low points were English and Homeroom. School life was enjoyable back in the day. Joined the USAF in 1959. Seventy years later…………….. Sad.

  2. Cleovis Scott says:

    My first teaching experience was at Hutchins. I taught Spanish from 1964-1967. I subsequently taught in high school. Some of the brightest students I ever had were at Hutchins. They absorbed foreign language like sponges. I was so impressed with the Olympic size swimming pools, the library with hardwood floors and a fireplace, and the spacious classrooms. While it had the reputation of being a difficult school in which to teach, I had a wonderful experience there. The supervisor of foreign languages for the district often sent other teachers to Hutchins to observe my classes. What a wonderful experience! I left to become a high school teacher of Spanish. I became a high school foreign language department head, Dean of Students, Assistant Principal, and retired as a Principal.
    Cleovis Scott

  3. Joyce Moore says:

    Today….our name, the Virginia Park community is still at stake…This mayor from Livonia has disrespected the residents, the voters of community. Our objective is to preserve the legacy and history of those before us. He has disregarded this historic Black community as he has with this Herman Kiefer development. He is so sure that he is going to be re-elected, he doesn’t feel he has to consider such a great and historic community. My late sister, Belinda Moore went to Hutchins..❤❤❤

  4. Joyce Moore says:

    This is Joyce Moore, Thursday, June 24, 2021, now 72….WOW…I want to thank Diane Bukowski who has kept this thread alive for all these years…and all of you who took the time to read and comment…

    UPDATE OUR STORY…this Mayor, Mike Duggan changed the name of the Virginia Park community and boundaries in 2015. Records vary and some show as far back as 2013 when he first got in office. We have requested for the last two years that our original boundaries and name along with maps and websites be restored to no avail.

    This is a 66 year old historic community. We now have a developer Ron Costellano whose primary residency is in New York. He now wants to plant 8000 trees as oppose to in-fill housing in the Virginia Park community. The developer got over 400 parcels and over 115 houses. Under first rights of refusal, we have to go to the developer to get property that we have maintained for years. The City is allowing a TIF on our properties which we are objecting to for Tax year 2020 and any future taxes. This is an election year!

  5. william r damon says:

    I attended hutch 1945-1947 I was 9th grade class president and gave graduation speech we class of jun 1947feel honored to be graduating this yr Hutchins 25 th yr of service to the community. movie star edna goluly. now Ellen burnsteadin our class great school indoor swim pool codd field. walk to school. bill Damon houston tx

    • Dr. Mary Hobson says:

      Hi William: I learned to swim in the Hutchins pool. My family moved to Detroit from the Florida Panhandle the year after the riot. Unfortunately, the move wasn’t good for the family but I have fond memories of Hutchins. I still remember the cafeteria food. We had lunch fights and walk-outs to protest the Viet Nam War or just to leave school. The destruction of Hutchins, the community, and the City of Detroit will hold a prominent place in the American horror story.

  6. Josie Gilchrist Anderson says:

    I worked at Hutchins in the early 70’s. I remember my friends & co-workers there. We had an awesome time at work and after work. My main friends/associates were:
    Ms. Charlotte McClendon, Mrs. Barbara Ross Lee (Diana Ross’s sister), Mr. Roscoe Hugle, Mr. Tony Hart, Mr. Charlie Scruggs (and his Uncle), Ms. Ruby Mitchell & the coach (I’ve forgotten his name).
    I, too, thought that this was a beautiful structure. I remember the principal giving me
    permission to take my English class on a field trip (on the city bus) to the movies to see
    “Cooley High.” I took about 20-25 students. We followed up with various essays on
    the themes, characters, Q & A, etc. about that legendary movie and song, “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday.” My most memorable time in Detroit was spent at Hutchins & with the co-workers listed above. I lived at 1535 Lawrence off Woodrow
    Wilson, so rode the bus to work daily.

  7. Earl Montgomery says:

    I went to Hutchins in the mid 50s. It felt like high school. Swimming in the summer, a large play ground. It was a top flight school. So many young memories. I lived in the next block on 1691 Hazlewood starting 1948 until 1957. My grandmother until 66. I am a Hebrew living in Israel since 77.

  8. SHARON HARRIS says:

    I remember freshie Fridays. I was lucky to have known people before me that was there. My aunt stayed across the street on Blaine. I would go there until the excitement cooled down. We stayed on Delaware near grand Blvd. We moved away in1967.

  9. Richard Knight says:

    I’ll never forget attending Hutchins Middle was the fall of 1997 when i transferred there just to be greeted by old friends from elementary school.we shared many fond memories and times some good and some bad.

  10. Richard Knight says:

    I attended Hutchins in 1997 , when I transferred from Ann Arbor Trail middle school that fall and I was instantly greated by old friends from elementary school (Thirkell) . I didn’t graduate there because , I eventually attended Ann Arbor Trail middlethe fall of “95”.I was one of the first ” Thirkell Jaguars” #43 for me not really being all that athletic but tall , I mad the team.

  11. Hutchins Lives!!! says:

    Larry Gaines 1965 thru 1968
    It hurts to see Hutchins the way it is now but it was a grand place in sixties. So many fond memories. It was a time when teachers really cared about the students they were charged with. The first time I fell for a girl was in that place. Learned to swim there. Met my first wife there. Watched my best friend Allan Valentine sing and make the girls swoon in the first Hutchaballoo Talent Show (this was a big deal… Lol).

  12. Ken says:

    I lived across the street from the school from age 2-5. I played baseball in the Police Athletic League were every street around the school had their own team. Boy, all everyone in the neighborhood wanted to do was to become a student of this great school. I close my eye and see all faces I knew back then. We move to that neighborhood in 1953 we moved away 1970. Hey, does anyone remember what was on your mind at 3:00 pm Freshie Friday?

    • SHARON HARRIS says:

      I remember freshie Fridays. I was lucky to have known people before me that was there. My aunt stayed across the street on Blaine. I would go there until the excitement cooled down. We stayed on Delaware near grand Blvd. We moved away in1967.

  13. Darryl Madison says:

    My name is Darryl Madison I graduated from hutchins Junior high School in 1975 my homeroom teacher name was Miss hoveet she was a very good teacher and a very mean teacher she did not take any trash from anyone she made sure that everyone in the class was going to get their work done she did not play around

  14. Cherrelle says:

    Good afternoon. I would like to know do you know anybody who has a yearbook from Hutchins Middle School in 2001? If you do can you please let me know so I can borrow it for the photocopies of all my friends and teachers and I will return it back to that person. Please and thank you.

  15. I attended Hutchins in the late 1930s. Rather than studying Latin, I took machine shop. A fellow student in machine shop was Seymour Tuchow, who became the actor Michael Tolan.

  16. Steve simpson says:

    My mom And aunt went to school here in the 1940’s. I went in the late teacher was miss Rose.happy times.

  17. Pamela says:

    I just attended my 40-year high school class reunion (Cass Tech 1978). I am a very proud Technician Alum and this is true for my fellow classmates as well. I am also a proud graduate of Hutchins Junior High. I went to Cass Tech mainly because my counselor at Hutchins Junior High submitted an application for me without my knowledge. He saw some potential in me and gave me advice regarding the courses I should study once at Cass. I told him I wanted to be a doctor and he recommended that I take Latin. So Latin it was even though I wanted to take French. He had me sign up to be in the chem-bio curriculum to prep for college and medical school. I am forever grateful that he did all this. This put me on track to make it to where I am today. Even though Hutchins was in the “hood” in 1972 when I entered 7th grade, many of us aspired to do great things. 12th street had burned to the ground during the riots and I had to walk through the desolation to get to Woodrow Wilson from Dunedin where my childhood home was. I didn’t appreciate Hutchins back then, but I now realize how special the school really was. I learned to swim there with Ms Dennis as instructor. Hutchins had TWO swimming pools. One for the boys and one for the girls. Both were clean and always well maintained. I remember the food fights we had in the cafeteria, Mr. Pierre Hendrix the music teacher and band leader, Mr. Van Lowe the principal, Mr. Hart my homeroom teacher who was often drunk and the graduating class of 1974. I remember the graduation held at the Tried Stone Missionary Baptist Church with all the girls wearing powder blue dresses.

    • Pamela, I am working on a documentary on Detroit. I’d love to speak with you when I am in Detroit. I currently live in Los Angeles. I’ll be there from August 31 through September 6th. Please send me an email of your availability and interest. Thanks!
      Marilyn Batchelor

    • I recall the swimming pool at Hutchins as we had to swim naked without bathing suits. I had also planned to go to Cass Tech, but we then moved to Highland Park, and I could not attend a Detroit high school.

  18. Ashley Lee says:

    Wow, My name is Ashley Lee, and I’m the child that was in the photo, nearly 10 years later and I still have a huge love for chess. That middle school was wonderful!

  19. Janice A Daniels says:

    I loved reading the comments about HUTCHINS Jr. High
    My sisters and I all went to Hutchins. Summertime was just the best Swimming.
    I remember my gym teachers Ms. Varner, Ms. Henderson and Ms. Blunt.
    Also had a school reunion on the playground in think that was in late 1990’s or early 2000’s, and we got a chance to go inside the building and look around.
    Those lunches were the best and remember those SWEET ROLLS? (35 cent for lunch)
    Now those were the ” GOOD OLE DAYS” 1960

    • Kwame kenyatta says:

      I to attendant Hutchins, Mr. Smith was my shop teacher it was during those years that I got my militant blackness, coming from Hanover pass 12th Street to Woodrow Wilson.

  20. G, Hanna says:

    I attended Hutchins ’54-’56 and remember Mrs. Adamo a pasonate and dedicated teacher who was smalll (5′?) in stature but so large in her chosen profession. She was to retuire in 1956 the year I graduated. I also remember the shop class that sponsored the car models (one of our students model was used by GM. It was an interesting time. Sad to see that the school was allowed to decay that way, but the same thing was to happen to Wilbur Wright High School. Nothing but a shell. I hesar it ws finally torn down?

  21. Earline Davis says:

    Even though I did not attend Hutchins school it makes me feel proud that Detroit taxpayers and to others that participated to rebuild this school like others in Detroit. Job well done.

  22. Sweet Chuck says:

    I wish that something could have been done to save that school. Class of 89.

  23. Felicia Tarver says:

    Im so saded what happened to my .
    old jr high school that it.was torn down I have some great memories at. Hutchins middle School

    • Felicia Tarver says:

      Yes great memories class of 75. hang In music room and my class. 301 going against teachers anybody got memories of that would be nice hear from you.

  24. Phyllis Gibson says:

    I taught at Hutchins Middle School in 1968 and my students performed beautifully.

    • Kaitlyn Wattle says:

      Thank you for all you have done you’re essence still lyes in that building, despite the destruction state. I could feel the excitement and high energy there till this day, I would love to save the building, remove the toxins and make it a community staple of change. With hemp help, we can do it. Detroit has enough heart to do what’s right despite the political corruption. Who’s with me.

  25. S Merkison says:

    Oh Goodness, how sad I graduated from there in ’69….memorable times, walking down Woodrow Wilson across the Blvd and cutting thur Hitsville & Coles Funeral Home going to and from school

  26. Rachael says:

    I was also a student at Hutchins, my principal was Mr. Vanlowe. We called him blinkie!!! Mr. BUTLER, deep voice scared the hell out of me!! Mrs. Dennis the gym teacher, I think was a great experience. Wish I had the yearbook 1973

    • Marvin Davis says:

      I also was a student at Hutchins and the early 70’s and remember Mr. Vanlowe. He blink alot while taking that’s my we call him blinkie. (laugh). Great school, the teachers & classes. Photography class printing press & wood shop class and a big pool where I learn how to swim.

  27. Raven Walker says:

    I was there 01-04.. such a great school with a lot of great things to offer the students! Every time i ride past it bothers me. I would’ve never thought they would close this school! So many memories & great teachers I’m still in contact with today!

    • Rose Moore says:

      My granddaughter and grandson both attended Hutchinson in 2004 and 2005 Felicia Means and Diljon Oliver, my grandson had a Teacher that he really looked up to. Her name was Ms Tanks. That’s all I know, but would really like to touch base with her if you have her contact information.

      • Kellie Dunbar says:

        Hi Rose,
        I happen to stumble on this post when looking into the history of the school my mother taught in for so many years. Her name was. Kathy Tanks I will pass surely pass along the kind words to her. She has been a teacher for over 3o years and it’s so funny how she can recall almost every student. If you would like to reach her, you can email me and I will surely get you in touch wit her. arkgraphx@ gmail .com

  28. Tone says:

    Class of 2002.
    I don’t remember everyone…but my music teachers were Mrs. Kneller (choir and piano) and Mr. Benoit? ( Band). I do remember Ms. Horvath ( Puppet Club) who would also send you to “Locker 20!” when you got in trouble for talking! What a unique program it was. We went to Lansing and all got to perform with our puppets and received certificates from the governor. This was a BIG deal to us middle school kids. Then there was the social studies teacher would say “Wunderbar!” when you did something good. Ms. Milne (our awesome gym teacher) and Ms. McClendon (homeroom) short but stern!
    They don’t teach/offer these sorts of things in schools in the city like they used to. Some schools really do try, they just don’t have the support or funding.

    • Pat says:

      Really funny to read this. I was class of 78 and truly remember each teacher you talked about. How on point you were.

    • jela harris says:

      do you remember mrs.griffen the science teacher. If so what was her full name.

  29. Joy C. says:

    My grandmother attended the Mc Michael School (6810 Grand River Ave., Detroit, MI) in 1935. Is there anyone who attended the same time, or have a family member who did? Was there a year book for the year 1935? I’d be interested to see a photo of my grandmother. She was 15 in 1935. Thank you.

  30. Melinda Lane says:

    My Dad went to Hutchins, class of ’41. So sad to see this happened to the school, I remember him taking me around the neighborhood back in the — I want to say 1990 or so I think.

  31. JOHN MCCURDY says:

    I was researching my father’s childhood and I found a picture from Hutchins School showing the 1924 Soccer Team. On the back my father wrote all the names of his teammates and coaches. My father was an orphan child, and attended Culver Military Academy in Indiana. I was not aware he attended school at Hutchins School as well.
    I will be eager to research some of the Hutchins School early history.

  32. George Herron says:

    Class of ’79, got a great education there,also probably one of the reasons I still play sports,saw mr. Van Lowe a few years ago at my former job at pewabic pottery.if th Joyce Moore that wrote the article is the same that used to live on Seward,we wer’e childhood friends,when you went with Kirk Pearson.that is,if this is the same person.

  33. Tom Diamond '49-'51 says:

    Thirkell Elementary (during WWII), Hutchens Intermediate, Cass Tech, Wayne (State) University, WSU Medical School, and then on to Harper Hospital for internship and ophthalmology residency. Mathematics teacher Harriet B. Gaston taught me to enjoy studying. But who could forget shop teacher Ole Olsen, who also judged the GM sponsored Cars of Tomorrow model contest? The Detroit I remember gave me a wonderful education. The Detroit Symphony’s children’s concert series instilled a lifelong love of classical music. I am thankful to have grown up in Detroit and pray it will someday be able to return to a place our children can be proud of.

    • Mel Wasserman says:

      Tom, I ran across your comments regardi1949-51ng Hutchins. I remember Miss Gaston. She was my homeroom and math teacher. Scared the daylights out of me. Fondly remember Imelda McIntyre who was the Hutchins Star advisor. Developed my interest in the media. Leonard Barouch the librarian was a gem.
      Mel Wasserman, 1949-51.

      • Patricia Fisher says:

        Are you the Mel Wasserman who taught The Art of Being Human class at Schoolcraft College in Livonia in the mid-’90’s while being stage manager for local ABC, channel 7 in the morning?

        • Patricia Fisher says:

          The Art of Being Human class was the best and most enjoyable class I decided to take at Schoolcraft that spring semester.

        • Mell Wasserman says:

          Yes, it is me. Was part-time at Schoolcraft. Great experience.

  34. Lorris Foster says:

    I attended Hutchins in 1939-1940. Way back when neighborhoods were beautiful, family friendly. Miss those days and so sorry to see what has become of this fine school.

    • I attended Hutchins at the same time. I must have been in the 1940 graduating class, as I started high school about 1940.

    • Julia VanCampen Schmitz says:

      My grandfather was a teacher there. Do you remember John VanCampen?
      I have a book of his from 1935-36 for the teachers book club.

    • Kaitlyn Wattle says:

      Thank you for sharing your memories! It is so helpful and inspiring as I see such beauty here. Especially around most of the closed schools. I want them, and reopen education. Properly. The children deserve it. Detroit is an open pallet, let’s live the way we see is fit healthy and friendly to earth. Let’s put Detroit back on the map and shine that heart that resides here to the world

  35. Evan says:

    Such a disastrous waste of resources. The School board makes a minimal to zero effort to maintain and secure these buildings. This is happening all over the Midwest. Central High in St. Louis, MO has met a similar fate. Is this what becomes of our country? We devalue education, we devalue our communities and in a sick, sad twist of fate, the same people who were so under served in these communities turn around and desecrate their own neighborhoods and schools. One of our ultimate tragedies, which I feel reflect the decline of society overall. This is a National problem. We currently have some of the worst schools in the world compared to other nations.

  36. sandra davis says:

    I went to Hutchins in 1973 I won the contest for naming the newspaper Hutchins Happenings. I won 5.00 abd a plaque with my name on . My class picture 1973-1974 was lost i was 13 yrs old a the time wish i had that picture to show my children and grandchildren that was one of my most memorable photos, wish the school had a copy in their archives .just wanted to share this with Hutchins. Alumnis.Ms Sandra Davis 7- 11-15

  37. Donella Bell says:

    Does anyone have the class pictures of the trip to Washington DC in 1967. The teacher in charge of this class trip was Michael Horwich He was the best teacher in he world. I wonder what happened to him. If anyone knows of his whereabouts.? Please contact me and I know 7t a long shot, but maybe someone still have a copy of the class trip to Washington DC .

  38. Mike says:


  39. kay sue says:

    I went to Hutchins in the 1960.s And my kids also went there. It was such a beautiful school, I remember in summers going to play baseball on the playground. Swimming classes. And the teachers. It is a sad shame what happened to the school. But it is indicative of everything after 1967 in the city of Detroit. All resources left the city and all the demise was blamed on the inhabitants, those without the financial resources and the political clot to get things done. I stayed in the City until 3 years ago. I love Detroit, but could not take the abandonment by the political machine any longer. I am not talking about the local government only. Detroit was left alone years ago. like an abandoned child. Hutchins is just one entity of demise like most of Detroit. I miss the old Detroit. I loved growing up there. I loved raising my children there. Now it looks like a war zone in that area. I know it will get better but I am sure I wont be around to see the real rebirth. GOD BLESS AMERICA PLEASE!!!!

  40. Kizzie G. says:

    I remember my years at Hutchins. I never thought it would come to this. I am sadden by such loss and the non caring attitude about it. I wish that one one day it could be rebuild to what it was or better. But the chance of that is slim.

  41. Bill Robbins says:

    Ah, Ktina, I too have a better memory of the earlier Hutchins that I attended from 1939 to 1942. Our Boy Scout troop 179 also met there once a week in the evening and went to Zukin’s candy store across from Boesky’s restaurant on 12th afterward. When I finished high school at Cass Tech in 1946, I joined the Marine Corps at 17 and hadn’t seen the old place since. Did you know that Lily Tomlin, who lived on Hazelwood near 12th St., also attended Hutchins?
    I wish that now they’d bulldoze the place to install another, even more wonderful establishment, but that’s obviously never going to happen. Seeing it remain in its present condition is like visiting a cemetery where all one’s former friends and relatives are zombies, neitherfully alive nor dead, but awaiting burial.

    • Jim Alexander says:

      I too went to Hutchins, 1946-1947 and then on to Cass Tech. We lived at 1936 LaMothe and I could walk up 12th Street to get to school. Then we moved to 5051 Avery Street; I caught the streetcar at 12th and Ferry Park until I finished the 8th grade. Growing up in that area was perfect. All of the homes were well kept and the yards as well. No drugs no problems what happened?

  42. David A. Hartfield says:

    This was my turning-point grade school, I received many awards during my semesters in Hutchins as well as upon graduation. I find it horrific to see such an establishment condemed. If I had the proper influences I would have personally made sure this institution remained intact. It is so sad to see the structural integrity of such a great place diminished.

  43. Eileen (Dark) Cook says:

    I attended this school many, many years ago (I am now 90 yrs old) and it makes me sick at heart to see what has happened to this beautiful, beautiful school!

  44. ktina davis says:

    Yes,when i seen with my own eyes wht had happened with the school, my emotions ran high.i was hurt,crushed my whole family attended that school.I cried at the lost of Hutchins,the neighborhood and all that left with it,my children will only know of the Detroit i knew by wayof story and photos. Just sad

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