Landmarks Designates PS 48 as First Landmark in South Jamaica, Queens

Public School 48. Image Credit: LPC/Lisa Kersavage

PS 48 is the first landmark to undergo its entire designation public hearing process over Zoom. On September 22, 2020, the Landmarks Preservation Commission designated Public School 48, also known as The Robert E. Peary School in Jamaica, Queens, as an individual landmark. PS 48 is located on 108th Ave and 155th Street, and is a three-story art deco style public school building. PS 48 is the first building to be designated an individual landmark in South Jamaica, and is the second art deco building designated as a landmark in New York City. For CityLand’s past coverage on Public School 48, click here.

Walter C. Martin, the Board of Education’s superintendent of buildings from 1928-1938, designed the school in order to alleviate overcrowding in Queens public schools after World War I. The school was constructed from 1932 to 1936, and is noted for its strong corner towers, vertical piers with stylized foliate capitals, bi-colored terracotta plaques that showed scenes depicting the importance of education, bi-colored spandrels, stylized foliate plaques atop of piers, and granite entrance surrounds featuring stylized eagles that harbor bronze doors.

Public School 48’s landmark designation proposal was calendared on June 9, 2020; the public hearing was held on August 4, 2020; and was proposed for designation on September 22, 2020. This designation was the first designation taken from calendaring through hearing and designation entirely via Zoom, due to COVID-19.

Commissioner Michael Devonshire commented that once PS 48 is designated, the Commission should note that the School’s windows have been updated and are not a part of the historical art deco style. Commissioner Diana Chapin noted that she was overjoyed by PS 48’s designation and that it is a “lovely example of a public school, and good edition to landmarks in Queens.”

Landmarks Chair Sarah Carroll stated, “For the past 70 years, P.S. 48 has both served the community and enhanced it with its beautifully executed design. Its Art Deco style details, which are quite striking in person, make it unique, and it is one of the first elementary schools in New York City to incorporate this architectural style. This building speaks to overcoming challenges, as it was originally established to provide equal access to education after NYC schools were integrated at the turn of 20th century, and constructed during the depression with funds from the public works administration.”

By: Victoria Agosta (Victoria is the CityLaw intern and a New York Law School student, Class of 2022.)


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