Dedication plaque stolen from school

Historic school to be demolished this summer

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published April 26, 2016

 The original 1927 plaque commemorating the Brooklands School has been stolen.

The original 1927 plaque commemorating the Brooklands School has been stolen.

Photo provided by Rochester Community Schools

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ROCHESTER HILLS — The original dedication plaque for the old Brooklands School has gone missing, and police are on the case.

Rochester Community Schools Community Relations Director Lori Grein said the district filed a police report after noticing that the plaque was missing from the 1927 building, which has been vacant for nearly two years.

RCS Superintendent Robert Shaner said it is “extremely disappointing” that someone would take the dedication plaque, which he said serves as “a treasured piece of history” within the community.

“We hope that someone will voluntarily come forward with the missing item,” he said in a statement.

The building, which was built on Auburn Road, between Rochester and John R roads in 1927, remained unchanged as the Brooklands School for almost a quarter-century, until 1951, when the community added three classrooms, a multipurpose room and a cafeteria.

In 1953, Brooklands School joined the Rochester Community Schools district. The building grew to twice its original size when two additional wings were added in the 1960s and 1970s in response to the increasing size of the community.

In the fall of 1993, a new building was erected behind the original site, which currently houses approximately 500 students in kindergarten through fifth grade. The older building was then used for the district’s Rochester Alternative and Adult Center for Education — commonly known as RACE — until 2014, when the program was moved to the Avondale Schools district due to building repairs that district officials deemed too costly.

The district has since decided to demolish the building, which is slated to occur in June.

Grein said the decision to demolish the building was not an easy one, but officials knew it had to be done.

“There is some history to the building, but unfortunately it is just beyond repair. There were some (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant issues that were too costly to meet,” she said. “The bottom line was, it was just too costly to repair.”

In an effort to respect the memory of the building, Grein said, the district planned to preserve the dedication plaque, the front benches and the cornerstone. She said the district will also preserve any valuable elements inside the building for repurposing.

As for the demolition process, Grein said the abatement of the building — for asbestos — was completed April 8.

On April 18, the Rochester Hills Fire Department began utilizing the building for training activities, which will continue on the weekends and evenings through June 22.

“They are going to do the training during the evenings and weekends, when there are no children at the school, but folks will see the fire trucks and uniformed firefighters and any other equipment that they have around the site,” Grein said. “We did put out communication to our families. … We just don’t want anybody to be alarmed that something is going on.”

RCS Superintendent Robert Shaner said the district is pleased to be able to partner with the city to help its firefighters with their training exercises.

“Providing our firefighters with a realistic setting to train will help them enhance and refresh their skills so they can better serve the community,” he said in a statement.

An 8-foot fence will be installed around the site prior to the June 27 scheduled demolition date. Once the building is demolished, crews will grade the area and plant grass. The existing parking lot and sidewalks will be preserved, Grein said.

District officials hope to complete the entire demolition process in mid-August, before students return for the 2016-17 school year.

“We respect the history of the building, but unfortunately, the facility is just too deteriorated to maintain.  The safety of our children always comes first,” Shaner said in a statement.

For more information about the demolition process, email Shaner at rshaner@rochester.k12.mi.us or use the Talk to Us feature on the district’s website, www.rochester.k12.mi.us.

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