The BOTD is a no-frills look at interesting structures of all types and from all neighborhoods. There will be old, new, important, forgotten, public, private, good and bad. Whatever strikes our fancy. We hope you enjoy.
Address:1346 President Street, between Brooklyn and Kingston Avenues
Name: St. Mark’s Day School, formerly House of St. Giles, the Cripple
Neighborhood: Crown Heights South
Year Built: 1916
Architectural Style: Spanish Mission Revival
Why chosen: In 1891, an Episcopalian nun named Sister Sarah Kirke founded the House of St. Giles, the Cripple, in Brooklyn, one of the first hospitals dedicated to the orthopaedic care and treatment of children. They focused not on only on surgical and other medical treatment, but also specialized in rehabilitation and after-care. In 1916, the hospital opened this new facility here on President Street, right in the heart of this affluent neighborhood. That year a terrible polio epidemic swept the nation, and St. Giles was soon filled to capacity, but would go on treating polio, both in house and outpatient, until the 1950’s and early 60’s, when the Salk and Sabine vaccines conquered this dread disease. By 1978, orthopaedic care was being given in larger public and private hospitals, and polio had almost disappeared, so the decision was made to close the hospital and turn the building over to a different use. St Giles still exists as a charitable foundation. St. Mark’s Episcopal Church is right across the street, and in 1978, bought the building for $250,000 for use as a parochial day school, which today has 517 students in PK-8th grade. The building’s design is pure Mission Revival, and I would surmise the architect drew upon the architecture of sunny Southern California to invoke the healing properties of sunlight, fresh air and warmth. This is a beautiful building that also fits in well with the wildly eclectic residential architecture of well-heeled President St.
Photo: St. Giles Foundation