Alumni Association Fights For Historic Building
The future of a historic school building in Flatbush remains in jeopardy as members of its alumni association fight to preserve the 18th century landmark. NY1's Jeanine Ramirez filed the following report.
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A multi-million dollar renovation is taking place at Erasmus Hall High School -- but only on the main facility.
In the courtyard sits a landmark building, the original school built back in 1786 when Flatbush was its own town.
With a statue of Dutch scholar Desiderius Erasmus in front, the Colonial wooden structure was called the Erasmus Hall Academy. Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and Aaron Burr were among its founders. And now there's a campaign to make sure that history is preserved.
"There's a chance that we can lose it if something isn't done soon," said Terry Kaplan, Erasmus Hall Alumni Association.
The Erasmus Hall Alumni Association wants the city to put some construction dollars into the effort. The building is both a federal and city landmark and stands as one of the oldest schools in the country. But concerned alumni worry it may not be standing for long.
"The boards are falling off. They're rotting. The roof has a hole in it. And there's water leaking in. The glass is damaged. The shutters are falling off," said Kaplan.
The building, which is no longer in use, has served multiple purposes over the years including an administration office, a college counseling center and even the Erasmus Hall Museum of Education.
Many of the rooms still have the pieces from the exhibits. There are also mementos from the high school days of old. Some notable alumni include Barbara Streisand, Eli Wallach and Beverly Sills. In a past campaign, alumni pledged money to help preserve the building but the association claims the city keeps dragging its feet.
"There's a whole lot of red tape involved in it. And at that time we had a couple of backers that were willing to step right in. Now we would probably have to start all over again with our fundraising efforts," said Charles Young, Erasmus Hall Alumni Association.
The Education Department said it's now working with the Landmarks Preservation Commission to find alternative sources of funding.
"We definitely don't want to sleep on this. We want to see this happen," said Young.
The alumni association hopes that work on the historic Academy Building can start before the job on the main building is done in 2010.