Lewis Cass Technical High School is a four-year high school in Detroit, Michigan. The school is named in honor of Lewis Cass, an American military officer and later politician who served as governor of the Michigan Territory from 1813 to 1831.()
The school, at 2501 Second Avenue, was first established in 1861 as Cass Union School, in order to provide training in woodworking and metal trades. It was constructed on land donated by former Secretary of State and Michigan Governor Lewis Cass.
In 1917, Cass Technical High School was founded.(1)(2) One year later, the school lent space to the Ford Motor Company to allow their employees access to the industrial training facilities within the building. The school soon grained notoriety as being the flagship facility for the Detroit Public School system.(2) It was later converted into a magnet school, and until 1977, it was the city’s only magnet school, open to all Detroit students above a specific grade point average and test score.()
In 1970, concerns over the condition of the school building was raised due to excessive deterioration.(3) It was feared that if the building was allowed to fall into disrepair, that the school and its curriculum would be eliminated. As a result, renovation and expansion of the school began in 1981 and was completed four years later.
The addition, designed by Albert Kahn Associated, included a new wing featuring a gymnasium, dedicated music rooms, a recital hall and a practice room. It also provided a new lunchroom. Classrooms in the business wing were also renovated.
A new seven-story facility was constructed behind the existing Cass Technical High School, and was completed in August 2005.(1) Designed for a capacity of 2,200 students, it allocated 183 square-feet per student with a total of 404,000 square-feet, and completed at a cost of $114 million.(2)
The design of the school was based around a seven “Curriculum Pathways” model in order to prepare students for post-graduate studies.(2) While first-year students engage in courses in all concentrations, those in the second-year choose an area of concentration for all elective courses, which are centrally located along a specific pathway. The interior spaces were divided into separate functions and activities, split amongst academic, public, athletic and performance spaces.
On July 30, 2007, the former Cass Technical High School was damaged in a fire.(3) Ruled as an arson, the Detroit police arrested two of the three men involved. The three-alarm blaze, which started on the first floor and spread upward to the third, injured two police officers and two firefighters.(4)
- “Cass Technical High School.” SchoolDesigns.com Nov. 2006. 15 Jan. 2009 Article.
- “Cass Technical High School.” DesignShare. 15 Jan. 2009 Article.
- “Old Cass Tech catches fire.” Detroit Free Press 31 July 2007. 16 Jan. 2009 Article.
- “Two firefighters injured in blaze at Cass Tech.” Detroit Free Press 30 July 2007. 16 Jan. 2009 Article.