Crime Lab / Elementary School

STATUS: Demolished (2017)

The former Stephen Foster Elementary School ceased to be used as a school in 1987 and was re-purposed as the City of Detroit Police Department Crime Lab. It was also home to the DPD’s Tactical Services Section, including special units like the Bomb Squad, SWAT, Sharpshooter unit, etc.

The infamous Detroit Police Department Crime Lab was shut down in 2008 after it was found routinely committing “serious errors” caused in part by “the deplorable conditions of the facility”. An audit, conducted by the State Police, uncovered serious errors in numerous cases and a 10% error rate was found in firearms analysis. The audit said sloppy work had probably resulted in wrongful convictions, and officials expect a wave of appeals in cases that the laboratory processed. Upon its closure, evidence from approximately 10,000 unprocessed rape kits were discovered in the lab, dating back nearly twenty years.

The auditors said that officers at the laboratory often cut corners and that in many instances “an assumption was made to the entirety of all items based on the analysis of only a few.” Technical reviews of the work were “almost nonexistent,” they wrote. Factors that contributed to the problems, they said, were a heavy workload, a lack of training and “the deplorable conditions of the facility.”

The Detroit Free Press reported that evidence, thousands of rounds of live ammunition, blood samples, sealed evidence kits and case files (some containing Social Security numbers of rape and assault victims) lay amid rubble in the abandoned crime lab that was open to trespass.



Paint Manufacturing Facility

I’ve been to these grounds several times and have never been let down by what I’ve explored, as there are multiple abandoned buildings and each one is different.  But this building in particular we had dubbed the “unicorn” because entry always seemed to elude us.  Most common causes were due to constant security patrol, car traffic-either driving around the building or right in front of it, as well as random people walking around.  But on this particular day, it was like butter 😉 everything worked out perfectly and we gained entry-which was no easy task, but on this day it all just worked out.  The timing was perfect both going in and coming out!  One minute too early or too late and we for sure would have been seen.

Once inside it was like OOOOOO EMMMMM GEEEEEEE!!  This is the building we had been looking for, for quite some time and we never knew that this place we’d passed a million times, was it lol.  Go figure…  Anywho, back to the explore!  As is pretty typical when I explore with friends, once we’re inside we all just kind of fan out and scatter in different directions.  I don’t know if it’s just an instinctive “I don’t want to be standing right next to somoene (hovering) waiting to get the exact same shot that their trying to get and I definitely don’t want to be in anyone’s way, so uhmmm I think I’ll go over here first” mentality or what, but it always happens lol.  (Side Note  It’s always fun to meet up or talk afterward and see the shots you got from the same room or same location.  Everyone has a different style and a different approach to their photography.  I love it!)

After being on the 1st floor for a while, peeking in and out of offices I looked around and realized that I was alone. My 2 urbex buddy’s were nowhere to be seen.  I guess I took too long trying to get a “down the hallway” shot of the main corridor haha.  A few seconds later I heard one of the guys call my name so I looked toward the area where it came from.  They had already made their way up the stairs to the second floor and didn’t want to leave me on the 1st floor all by myself.  Awwww, sweet huh?  🙂

So I snap one last pic and scurry to the corner where the stairs were located, only to get side tracked by how awesome the stairwell (sans hand rail) was.  Peely paint galore and graffiti everywhere!!  So I snapped a few pics on my way up and got side tracked yet again as I reached the top, because I spotted the coolest bathroom I have ever seen – complete with mummy murals YASSSSSSSSS!!  We spent much more time on the 2nd floor because every room and every corner was more cool than the next!  I can’t even tell you how many pictures I took.  Oddly enough, being that this building is supposedly a paint manufacturing facility there were desks all throughout the 2nd floor.  Rooms and rooms of desks!  So at first (before I got back home and researched the location history) I assumed this building was some sort of training school.  I’m still unsure… Either way, it was a very cool explore and I’m so happy that we finally got in  🙂

Below is the location history according to the US Navy and a few of my favorite pics from this location (photographed in late 2013).



The Paint Manufacturing Facility located on MINS, was established by the U.S. Navy in 1854 until it was closed in April of 1996. The building was historically part of marshlands located along the shoreline between 1911 and 1938, the land was created when dredge spoils material (primarily clay and silt) was placed in an area bounded by a network of levees constructed to the northeast, south, and southwest of the site in 1914.

The paint manufacturing facility included several buildings in addition to two former above ground storage tank (AST) farms and associated pipelines and a former 4,000 gallon heating oil AST adjacent to the building.  Paints and varnishes were manufactured at the paint manufacturing facility from the 1940s to the mid-1950s in support of ship construction and maintenance. Materials used in the paint manufacturing process, which included oils, solvents and resins were stored at two former tank farms.

The northern tank farm, consisting of 21 above ground storage tanks.  Railroad cars were used to transport raw materials and manufactured paints and varnishes on and off site.  The southern tank farm, consisting of six above ground storage tanks. Both tank farms were removed in the 1960s. When the paint manufacturing facility was active, two common anti-corrosive paints were applied to Navy vessels; a zinc chromate formulation and a lead-based formulation. Antifoulant paints were also used, and consisted of a film-forming material (matrix, binder, resin, and medium), a pigment, and a biocide that kills or repels fouling organisms. Former shipyard workers stated that poly chlorinated biphenyls (PCB), organotins and other biocide agents were added to paints only on an experimental basis. They specifically recalled a 400-gallon batch of PCB-containing paint and a 100-gallon batch of organotin containing paint.

Facility-wide and site-specific investigations were conducted between 1983 and 2000. Results of previous investigations indicated the presence of metals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and poly chlorinated biphenyls in surface soil as well as solvents and oil in soil and groundwater. The Navy conducted a removal action in 1998 & 1999 to remove soil with elevated concentrations of metals and site features such as an oil-water separator and transfer piping used between the two former tank farms.

Here are a few of my favorite pictures from this pretty amazing location ツ

Nuclear Training School | Military Base

I have lost count of how many times I have ventured through this building. Much to my surprise, I see something new every time I visit. This can most likely be attributed to the fact that people are always “decorating” the walls (or what’s left of them) with new art work/graffiti…and of course because of a few dingbats that feel the need to destroy anything and everything they see, by smashing holes in walls, breaking what furniture remains and throwing things out of the windows to break them and just be stupid.

Now if you know me at all or have read any previous posts about locations I’ve been too, you’ve heard me say “I find it peaceful and humbling…” well that does most definitely NOT apply to this building lol. This building, as intriguing as it is, makes me very uncomfortable. I am not at ease, by any means, in this building. It kinda scares me…for a few different reasons. One of the reasons is the creepy sound the wind makes as it blows through every broken out window, making hanging debris clang together and door slam shut. It’s almost like a spooky wind tunnel lol.
The other reason is because if something were to happen to you inside of this building (i.e. you were attacked, you hurt yourself, etc), chances are that nobody would know, or help may come too late. So needless to say, it’s safe to explore with a buddy, keep quiet when possible. Not only because you’re not supposed to be there, but you need to be aware and not draw attention to yourself. Every floor has several rooms and hallways that display how the building is frequented by transients and drug users. It’s evident as you walk over torn out pages from pornography magazines, drug paraphernalia, dirty clothes, empty food cans and paper plates.

During one visit I observed a handful of guys making a music video lol, and during another visit, my sister and I were exploring the 3rd floor when we saw some stupid kids throwing a chair out of the window. This is not only dumb and disrespectful but it’s going to draw unwanted attention to the building. This property is heavily patrolled by security as many parts of it are still in use (by either the Navy or civilian businesses). We immediately left because we didn’t want to be associated with that at all.

Everyone non Urbex’r who is reading this – Please know that this is not how we behave. Many of us follow the unwritten code that we are to “leave nothing but footprints”. Meaning, we don’t take things, we don’t destroy, and we don’t leave garbage…we simply enter, shoot, leave. Simple as that. We leave the location, the same way we found it. Anyone who does not, is not a true Urban Explorer.

Helpful Tip: As always, be respectful of your surroundings and don’t lag…meaning – get in, shoot, get out. You could be invading someone’s “privacy” or sense of security and they may not like it. Or you can simply look vulnerable, by yourself, with expensive camera equipment.


I couldn’t find much history on the building beside the fact that the facility was once a Navy Nuclear Power School that operated from January 1959 until 1977 when nuclear training was consolidated and moved to a Naval Base in Orlando, Florida. It is believed that from 1977 until its closure in the 90’s it served as a Training [Apprentice] Building / Re-Employment Center. The city acquired the building after the base closure in 1996 closure. The city’s abandoned buildings [on the base] consist of barracks, apartments, commissary, plus many other structures.

Nuclear Power School is a technical school operated by the U.S. Navy to train enlisted sailors, officers and civilians for shipboard nuclear power plant operation and maintenance of surface ships and submarines in the U.S. nuclear navy.

There are currently demolition & abatement plans for this building (and probably many others on the base). City officials say the buildings should be demolished as soon as possible but the $8 million is not available to pay for the work. Demolition was set to begin in September [2014], however I cannot confirm if it has begun as I have not visited the site since the beginning of the year.

As far as I know, it is still the same old intimidating building 🙂
Here are a few pics from my many visits to this location…