Is NYC Letting Erasmus High School Rot?

From Flatbush Life

Alarm over Erasmus Hall safety
By Helen Klein

Is Brooklyn’s little old schoolhouse falling into ruin?

That’s the concern that has been voiced about the landmarked 18th century schoolhouse within the courtyard of Erasmus Hall High School, at Flatbush and Church Avenues.

According to Community Board 14 member Marshall Tames, the venerable federal-style schoolhouse, which dates to 1787, “Hasn’t been touched in the last 20 years, and it’s going to fall down one of these days. The building is like a museum, but nothing is being done about it.” It was ‘last repaired or painted in 1987,” Tames added.

The Department of Education (DOE) confirmed that the agency had not been spending capital funds on the structure. Margie Feinberg, a spokesperson for DOE, said that the agency wasn’t willing to spend money on the building unless it could be used for classroom space.

“We need additional seats for instruction for students,” Feinberg explained. “The building in Erasmus is a wood-frame building. It’s a nice building, but we can’t use capital money for that. There are so many places in the city that are overcrowded because we don’t have enough classroom space, so no one can justify renovating a building that the school uses for a museum and that is not used for instruction, because it doesn’t meet the fire codes.”

But, while the old schoolhouse might not help fulfill DOE’s current need for classroom space, it represents something very special in New York City, noted Schweiger. “It’s the second oldest secondary school in the United States,” he explained, noting, “Some of the founders of this country were responsible for building it.”

Simeon Bankoff, the executive director of the Historic Districts Council, concurred. “It’s a very important building on a historical level more than on an architectural level,” he noted.

And, Bankoff noted, “If the city owns the landmark, it should be protected. The administration feels education is such an important thing, so it follows logically that historic schools should be protected and not left to rot.”

Posted Under: Brooklyn, Flatbush, HDC, Public Building

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