The building was originally the city's main post office. A tunnel between the warehouse and the Michigan Central Station across the street shuttled mail brought in from all over the country by train. After a few decades of use, the post office moved and the Detroit Public Schools purchased the warehouse for their main depository of school supplies and records. As many as 75 to 100 people worked there at any given time.
On March 4, 1987, at 9:20 a.m., a fire broke out at the Roosevelt Warehouse. It spread rapidly through stacks of books on the third floor. More than 100 firefighters spent hours dousing the flames with thousands of gallons of water, but the building was effectively destroyed. At the time, school officials measured the damage at "several million dollars for the contents alone."
According to Reginald Ciokajlo, then superintendent of support services, the district was lucky that most of that year's textbooks and materials had already been delivered and none of the principals had placed their orders for the next school year's textbooks. School and student records going back to 1918 were destroyed.
After the fire, the Detroit Public Schools abandoned the Roosevelt warehouse and eventually started storing supplies at a new location.