“Sweet, Sweet Powder Blue!” So begins a popular cheer at Mumford High School, the only school in Detroit accented with blue tiles. But as any savvy Detroiter knows, the school’s blue exterior is hardly its only distinction. Mumford, located in Northwest Detroit, sits on twenty acres of land at the corner of Wyoming and Thatcher.
It’s named for Samuel C. Mumford, a Detroit Edison treasurer, who served for 22 years on the Detroit Board of Education and was elected Board President three times. Mr. Mumford was best known as a spirited, honest, unselfish and even tempered man who won the respect of all who came in contact with him. Among his efforts, the most notable was ridding the Board of Education of corruption during the 1920s, which won him the respect of the entire community. His character was impeccable and prestigious.
Blueprints for Mumford were completed in 1941, however, World War II delayed construction until 1947. Following war-delayed construction, Mumford High opened in September 1949; a time when large segments of Detroit'a Jewish American population had already begun an inexorable movement toward the suburban communities of Oakland County. Mumford's architectural profile featured imported powder blue limestone block and exquisite Art Deco styling similar to other Detroit high schools. During much of the 1950s and early 1960s, Mumford High served a predominantly Jewish student population.
The school finally opened its doors in September, 1949, to a student body of 428 and a faculty of 12. The first unit, known as the south wing, was opened under the leadership of its first principal, Mr. C. E. Frazier Clark. The building was not completed until 1953, when the auditorium, gymnasium, shop wing and cafeteria were opened. The dance studio wing and fitness center were both completed in 1981.
Mumford is noted for many firsts: the first Compact High School in Michigan, creating a positive alliance between business, higher education, organized labor and the school; the first Metro-Detroit high school to offer a state-of-art Computer Technology Center; the pioneer school for Channel One,a unique national presentation of news focused on youth
Mumford High School was demolished during the summer of 2012. A new building was constructed at the same Wyoming Avenue address and opened in August, 2012.
Notable Mumford Alumni
- John "Tiny" Andrews, class of 1969, defensive tackle for NFL's Miami Dolphins
- Ivan Boesky, a 1955 graduate, came to Mumford after having attended Cranbrook School in Bloomfield Hills; was convicted for role in Wall Street insider tradingscandal during mid-1980s; his involvement is recounted in book Den of Thieves by Pulitzer Prize-winning author James B. Stewart
- Paul Borman, federal judge on United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan since 1994, was earlier an Assistant U.S. Attorney, Special Counsel to the Mayor of Detroit, and Chief Federal Defender of the Legal Aid & Defender Association of Detroit from 1979 to 1994; also professor at Wayne State UniversityLaw School and adjunct lecturer at University of Michigan.
- Jerry Bruckheimer, film and television producer whose credits include three CSI television series, Pirates of the Caribbean film series, and Flashdance; produced Beverly Hills Cop, in which Eddie Murphy's character Axel Foley is seen wearing a "Mumford Phys Ed Dept" T-shirt
- Kenneth Ferguson, world-class track and field athlete; ranked 7th globally in 400-meter hurdles (2007) During his time at Mumford, Ferguson was a six-time Michigan High School Athletic Association champion in the hurdles and relay events
- R. Barri Flowers (1974), criminologist, author, inducted into Michigan State University Criminal Justice Wall of Fame in 2006
- Cornelius Grant, noteworthy guitarist with Motown Records
- Judith Guest (great-niece of Edgar Guest); attended Mumford for one year (1951); her first book, Ordinary People, published in 1976, was adapted as a 1980 filmthat won an Academy Award for Best Picture
- Jemele Hill (1993), ESPN sportscaster and columnist
- Earl Klugh, jazz musician and Grammy Award-winning recording artist
- Ruth Laredo (née Meckler), concert pianist
- Derrick Mason, played football for Michigan State University and NFL's Houston Oilers and Tennessee Titans, earning All-Pro recognition
- Roger Penzabene, songwriter for Motown label; among his most notable compositions are "The End of Our Road" by Gladys Knight & the Pips and Marvin Gaye, and a trilogy of hits for the Temptations: "You're My Everything", "I Wish It Would Rain", and "I Could Never Love Another (After Loving You)"
- Gilda Radner, actress and original Saturday Night Live cast member, wife of actor Gene Wilder; attended Mumford for one year
- Stephen M. Ross, CEO and chairman of National Football League's Miami Dolphins.
- Bruce Joel Rubin, screenwriter whose film credits include Deep Impact, Sleeping with the Enemy and Ghost
- Bob Shaye, movie producer, director, co-founder of New Line Cinema; among his many films, he produced original Nightmare On Elm Street
- Marcus Thigpen, CFL player for Saskatchewan Roughriders and NFL player for Miami Dolphins
- Allee Willis, Grammy Award-winning songwriter and multi-media artist, whose hits include "September" and "Boogie Wonderland" by Earth, Wind & Fire; "Neutron Dance" by The Pointer Sisters; theme song to TV series Friends and Broadway musical The Color Purple
- The Winans, The Clark Sisters, Fred Hammond and Deitrick Haddon, Gospel singers