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A School Built For Black Students During Slavery Becomes A Landmark In NYC Leave a comment


A school that was built for Black students during the era of slavery in New York City is now an official landmark. 

 NBC News reports that the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission voted on Tuesday to safeguard the former Colored School No. 4 by classifying the three-story yellow-brick building as a landmark.

In order to have the 175-year-old building on West 17th Street in Manhattan’s Chelsea district examined and given official historic classification, historian and urban planner Eric K. Washington submitted a proposal in 2018. He started a petition and organized a grassroots effort that garnered more than 2,800 signatures four years later.

“I think that the fact that this school and what it represents is being landmarked in this major city will serve as an example to locales across the country,” Washington said, The New York Times reported, “so I’m thrilled in that regard.”

According to The New York Times, Washington thanked the city for defending the structure at a time when others are attempting to repress and ban the study of Black history, which he called a critical component of American history.

Between 1860 and 1894, Black students were educated at Colored School No. 4, according to the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission. The structure, which was built between 1849 and 1850, also served Black adults for evening school.

Sarah Carroll, chair of the Preservation Commission, says the site represents “a difficult, often overlooked, period in our city’s history.”

According to NBC, the school also served as a safe haven for youngsters during the 1863 New York Draft Riots. The school’s principal, suffragist Sarah J.S. Tompkins Garnet, was the first Black woman in the New York City public school system. 

The city will reportedly donate $6 million to the preservation of Colored School No. 4, which officials hope to be fully restored by 2027.

“We stand on the shoulders of the young men and women that attended this school,” New York City Mayor Eric Adams said in a statement. “While they may be gone, I am honored to ensure they will never be forgotten.”


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