The George Defer Elementary School, photo submitted 1997 The George Defer Elementary School, photo submitted 1997 The George Defer Elementary School, photo submitted 1997 The George Defer Elementary School, photo submitted 1997 The George Defer Elementary School, photo submitted 1997 The George Defer Elementary School, photo submitted 1997 The George Defer Elementary School, photo submitted 1997 The George Defer Elementary School, photo submitted 1997 The George Defer Elementary School, photo submitted 1997
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Defer Elementary School
15425Kercheval, Grosse Pointe Park - Wayne County
Other Names George Defer Elementary School
Property Type school
Historic Use EDUCATION/school
Current Use EDUCATION/school
Style Tudor Revival
Architect/Builder George J. Haas
Narrative Description The three-story, rectangular plan, Tudor Revival George Defer Elementary School is of masonry construction and sits on a concrete slab foundation. The roof is a concrete slab covered with built-up bituminous membrane. The exterior walls are of cinder-raked face brick with limestone detailing. Decorative features include: a semi-hexagonal, three-story, limestone bay window with crenelated parapet; wood paneled Gothic arched doors topped with gothic arched transoms; decorative tracery windows; limestone door and window surrounds; modified stone buttresses; and decorative carved stone panels. The windows are casement with steel mullions and muntin bars. In the interior, the kindergarten room contains both a fireplace and drinking fountain of Pewabic tile. In 1928, an addition was made to the building which provided additional classrooms and a leaded glass conservatory. The playground contained concrete play sculpture designed by Michigan artist James Miller of South Lyon in 1960. The rounded forms, smooth finishes, and bright colors of the stylized sculptures were characteristic of the organic architecture popular in that era. Miller designed five sculptures for the school; three are still in use. The school yard also contains baseball diamonds, constructed in 1954, which were used by Grosse Pointe's first Little League teams. The playground was removed in 1999.
Statement of Significance The George Defer Elementary School is significant as an example of the Tudor Revival architectural style that was immensely popular in the 1920s. This style was one of a number of romantic revival styles used in suburban residential and public buildings and is symbolic of the prosperity and rapid growth that Detroit, and other cities across the country, experienced due to the rise of industrialism following World War I. The Defer School, built in 1924, and its 1928 addition were designed by Detroit architect George J. Haas. He also designed the Grosse Pointe High School. In 1921, due to the expansion of the suburbs around Detroit, five fractional school districts were consolidated into one, Rural Agricultural District No. 1, which was later renamed the Grosse Pointe Public School District. Defer School was the first one built after the consolidation and today it remains the oldest operating public school in the district. The school was named for George Defer who served as a trustee of the Village of Grosse Pointe Park from 1914-17, it's president from 1918-1926, and as a state senator in 1927.
Marker Name Defer Elementary School
Marker Text DEFER ELEMENTARY SCHOOL In 1921, Rural Agricultural District No. 1 consolidated five fractional districts, bringing together students who previously met in five separate schoolhouses. Defer Elementary School, the first school built after the consolidation, was named in honor of George Defer (1880-1927) who served as a village trustee and president and as a state senator. Constructed in 1924 in the Tudor Revival style, the school was designed by Detroit architect George J. Haas and decorated with Pewabic ceramic tiles. By 1927 the neighborhood had grown and the school became overcrowded. In 1928 an addition, which included the conservatory, was built. Defer Elementary School is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Period of Significance 1901-1930
Significant Date(s) 1924
1928
Registry Type(s) 05/02/2001 National Register listed
08/29/1996 State Register listed
Site ID# P1724