Detroit finds new uses for old school buildings

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

When it was a high school, the auditorium and gymnasium at the Burton International School thrummed with the sounds of students gathering for assemblies or bouncing balls. These days, film dialogue and soundtracks fill the nearly 100-year-old building, which has found new life as a movie theater.

Developer Joel Landy remade the school into the Cass City Cinema at the Burton Theater.

"It had all the seats and a projection booth built in 1924," Landy said. "That kind of clinched it."

Burton was among dozens of Detroit public schools forced to close in recent years as the district sank into debt and parents sought better education options. Now the city is getting high marks for its efforts to reuse those buildings — as churches, substances-abuse centers, housing and more.

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