Landmarks Holds Public Hearing on Public School 48 Designation

Public School 48. Image Credit: LPC/Lisa Kersavage

Landmarks advocates and elected officials support the designation of the school as a landmark. On August 4, 2020, the Landmarks Preservation Commission held a public hearing to designate Public School 48 in Jamaica, Queens as an individual landmark. Public School 48, also known as the Robert E. Peary School, is located at 155-02 108th Avenue and is an Art Deco style three-story public school building designed by Walter C. Martin. For CityLand’s prior coverage of the Public School 48 designation process, click here.

Public School 48 was constructed in 1932 and completed in 1936, and designed by Walter C. Martin, the Board of Education’s superintendent of buildings from 1928 to 1938. After World War 1, the Board of Education created Public School 48, along with other public schools, to manage the overcrowding in Jamaica, Queens. Martin designed the school using the “p-type” construction plan, which included a separate auditorium wing to allow for more classroom space.

Public School 48 is noted for its strong corner towers, vertical piers with stylized foliate capitals, bi-colored spandrels, bi-colored terracotta plaques that showed scenes depicting the importance of education, stylized foliate plaques atop of piers, and granite entrance surrounds featuring stylized eagles that harbor bronze doors. The design and unique detail that Martin designed for Public School 48 sets this building apart from the other public schools built during this time.

The hearing was moderated by Landmarks Chair Sarah Carroll, and multiple members of the public testified in support of designating Public School 48 as a public landmark, including Councilmember Adrienne Adams, New York City Council District 28, Chair of the Subcommittee on Landmarks, Public Sitings, and Dispositions; Andrea Goldwyn of the New York Landmarks Conservancy; Meghan Weatherby, Executive Director of the Art Deco Society of New York; and Simeon Bankoff, Executive Director of the Historic Districts Council. These members of the public collectively noted the importance of preserving this striking example of Art Deco in New York City Public Schools and preserving Martin’s legacy.

Councilmember Adrienne Adams noted that members of the public had requested Public School 48 to be designated as an individual landmark over ten years ago.  Councilmember Adams also commented, “Jamaica Queens has a great historical legacy that is under threat like never before because it is sorely lacking historic preservation,” and that designating Public School 48 as an individual landmark will “attract history-minded tourists and ensure this piece of history will not be built over or forgotten.”

After all of the testimony was heard, the hearing was closed, and the Landmarks Preservation Committee will hold a vote “in the near future.”

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



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