By Kevin Byrne 1976, 9/8/01 (Edited by M. Zapolski, Sr.)
The square mile between Southfield & Evergreen from 7 Mile to 8 Mile was known as Southfield Woods. It was originally in Redford Twp until it was purchased by Detroit in the late 1920s.
The whole area was originally a farm owned by the Cronin family whose home was built there in the late 1890s (2nd house north of 7 Mile on the east side of Ashton facing 7 Mile). In the late 1920s, the Cronins sold some land in the western part of their farm off Grandville and Huntington (by Cambridge & Vassar) where Redford Twp had built a 4-room school.
Mettetal was built using this Redford school as the basis for the new school. During this period, local streets had different names from the names we know: Rosemont was Wilson, & Vassar was Evergreen – imagine the confusion seeing the intersection of Southfield and Evergreen roads on a map today?
The whole farm was sold post-war to a developer who subdivided the land. Model homes were built on Ashton near Cambridge, and new homes were filled-in from east to west. In order to minimize taxes from the sale of all that land, the owner donated the land St. Gerard was built on to the archdiocese.
The developer could not develop the Pitcher Woods Ford High area because it was swampy and too sandy – deep sand with almost no clay. Did you know that Ford High has no foundation into bedrock? The area is so swampy that a cofferdam had to be built to hold back the water. Pumps and level measuring devices were installed in Ford's basement, and the whole school floats on water. The school is kept level by those pumps, which move water from high, to low, points. The pump room is located under the gym next to the pool pumps, and City engineers check the level weekly.