Ornate Old school is Stripped of Gothic Details
As workers began removing the slate roof, gargoyles and copper turrets from a century-old Gothic-style school building on East 99th Street betwewen Lexington and Third Avenues last week, neighborhood residents were rushing to stop its demolition.

"They're racing to knock it down, and we're racing to save it," said Gwen Goodwin, who lives on East 100th Street.

Ms. Goodwin and other residents were infuriated to discover that the city had allowed a dealer of architectural artifacts to remove the ornamentation, which will be privately sold.

After Ms. goodwin called the city's Department of Buildings, an inspector showed up on Friday and ordered the work stopped for lack of permits. But an inspector from the School Construction Authority, who also came to the scene, said no permit was needed and work would soon resume.

Public School 109 was closed in 1996, after the city abandoned a $4 million renovation plan for the school because officials decided thgat was not enough money to fix the extensive water damage and years of deterioration. But parents of students, who were assigned to other schools, were told that the school would be repaired and reopened, said Adam Clayton Powell, IV, who represented the area in the City Council at the time.

"They told us within a year students would be back in," said Diana Rodriguez, whose three children were moved from P.S. 109 to the Julia de Burgos Bilingual School on EAst 106th Street. "Their new classrooms were very, very crowded, but nothing ever happened."

A School Constructioin Authority spokesman, Jack Deacy, said the Board of Education asked it last fall to pick a company to demolish the building. The Board of Education did not return calls seeking comment.

The building, two blocks east of the Carnegie Hill Historic District, "should have been landmarked and preserved," said David C. Balderstam of Carnegie Hill Neighbors, a preservationist group. "Unfortunately, there's no active organization in that neighborhood to speak up."

P.S. 109 is one of the city's last Gothic-style schoolhouses, said Raymond Plumey, an architect who does historic preservation work. "If this were the Upper East Side or the Village, this building would have been landmarked and saved," he said.

His firm helped renovate P.S. 72, on East  !06th Street, an 1881 school that stood vacant for 15 years. The city spent $5.3 million in 1989 to transform it into the Julia de Burgos Latino Cultural Center, and it was made a landmark in 1996.


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