St. Anthony High School, also known as East Catholic High School, was located at Sheridan Street and Farnsworth Street in Detroit, Michigan. The complex closed in 2005 and demolished in 2012.

St. Anthony High School

The location of St. Anthony High School and the adjacent St. Anthony Catholic Church was once part of a 347-acre lot that was bequest by Francois Malcher to the diocese of Cincinnati, to which the church belonged to until 1833.4 The deed to the land was then lost and the diocese’s claim to the land was in dispute; it could only claim 96 acres.

Bishop Peter Paul Lefevre donated a part of the church-owned land to families who requested to be a part of St. Anthony’s parish, also donating a bell and $100 towards the construction of a church.4 Lefevre then obtained parish permission to use lumber from the surrounding forests towards the church and on July 5, 1857, a frame structure costing $6,000 was opened.That church, while blessed but not consecrated, was sold in 1902 and housed families at 5100 and 5110 Field Avenue.4

About 50 German families in the neighborhood formed St. Anthony parish, branching from Old St. Mary’s Church, the first German Roman Catholic parish in the city.4 By 1880, the average attendance at early masses was 300 with yearly expenses of $1,075.6 The first school was built in 1865 and expanded in 1882.2 A grade school was built near the church in 1896 2 4 at a cost of $30,000.7

A larger twin-towered Neo-Romanesque styled church was constructed in 1901 and 1902, replacing the circa 1857 building.4

A high school was constructed at Field and Frederick streets in 1918,2 and an auditorium was added across the street in 1923.A larger high school building was finished in 1926 as an extension of the auditorium,2 5 adding 13 classrooms and science laboratories. In the 1950’s, a larger gymnasium was erected.2

Enrollment peaked in 1927 at 1,040, remaining stable until the 1967 Detroit riot, which lasted five days and led to the deaths of 43 police officers, firefighters, National Guardsman and citizens and over 1,180 injuries. Following the riots, the city’s population began sharply dropping, going from 1.5 million in 1970 to 951,000 by 2000.

To hold off the decline in the neighborhood, the diocese invested heavily into its school system. In 1969, several catholic schools were unified into St. Anthony to form East Catholic High School following a series of integrations due to the dwindling population in the city.2

Academically, the school was superior in instruction, even garnering the attention of the New York Times who wrote about parents that were removing their children from public schools in the city and enrolling them at East Catholic and other similar church schools. The school boasted that 75% to 95% of the students would enroll in a college or university after graduation.East Catholic was the first Catholic school to work with punch cards in 1968, an early computing system, giving its students an advantage in finding jobs in technology-related industries.2

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, East Catholic took home eight district titles in basketball.2

Despite this, enrollment slowly declined, and by 2005, East Catholic had only 124 students. The school was closed at the end of the academic year, followed by the closure of St. Anthony Catholic Church in 2006. St. Anthony reopened in 2010 with a new congregation that was separate from the Roman Catholic Church.2

After several years of abandonment, the school was demolished. The first phase of demolition began on January 16, 2012, with the remediation of any environmental issues, including asbestos.1 Phase one was completed by February 15. The second phase of demolition began in late February and was completed by April 30, leaving no trace of the school remaining.

Further Reading