Landmarks Designates Former Segregated School in Chelsea as Individual Landmark

The former Colored School No. 4 retains its original form and configuration, and windows on the second and third floor. Image Credit: LPC.

On May 23, 2023, the Landmarks Preservation Commission voted to designate the former Colored School No. 4 as an individual landmark. The former school, located at 128 West 17th Street in Chelsea, is the city’s sole surviving school building that exclusively served African American students in the second half of the 19th century. 

The former school is a three-story building constructed in 1849-1850. The building follows the Model Primary School House plan featuring a 25-foot wide four-bay facade with large multipane windows. The school could accommodate up to 300 students, and had separate entrances and floors for boys and girls. The school exclusively served African American students until 1894, when all of the segregated schools were closed. For more info about the school and its history, click here.

On April 25, 2023, Landmarks held a public hearing for the proposed landmark. Several people spoke in support of the designation. Representatives from Manhattan Community Board 4 and the Chelsea Block Association spoke in support. Eric K. Washington, who first  brought the building to Landmarks’ attention, stated that the designation was “timely, in light of the integral Black presence in our great four centuries old city it speaks to the woeful absence of sites that attest to that history.” Mr. Washington also highlighted that it was critical to recognize this part of history in light of how other parts of the country are rejecting African American history courses. 

At the vote, Chair Sarah Carroll stated that the designation would “serve as a reminder of the systemic racism and segregation that so many endured.” 

Landmarks voted unanimously to designate the former Colored School No. 4 as an individual landmark.

By: Veronica Rose (Veronica is the CityLaw fellow and a New York Law School graduate, Class of 2018.)



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