Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Last week we featured some of the great C.B.J. Snyder’s Brooklyn schools. There are a lot of them, and here’s one more great addition to the Brooklyn streetscape.

Name: Public School 124, Silas B. Dutcher School
Address: 515 4th Avenue
Cross Streets: 13th and 14th Street
Neighborhood: Park Slope
Year Built: 1899-1900
Architectural Style: Beaux-Arts
Landmarked: No

This beautiful Beaux-Arts-style elementary school is just one many built by C.B.J. Snyder, the Supervisor of School Buildings for the City of New York. It one of his earliest Brooklyn schools, planned a year after Brooklyn became part of Greater New York City in 1898.

As we posted last week, Snyder revolutionized school building with his H-shaped schools. This is not one of them; instead it’s a massive old-style rectangular school, built on a block-wide lot with lots of room around it for maximum use of windows on all four sides.

Snyder was well aware of the impact a handsome, well-built school had on a community. The 1893 Chicago World’s Exhibition had introduced the nation to the Beaux-Arts style — an ornate, classically inspired French Baroque style that lent itself well to public buildings of all kinds.

It’s School Week here on Brownstoner — a series of posts celebrating the start of the school year.

I did not grow up in New York City, so I never had the opportunity to be educated in a school designed by the great Charles B.J. Snyder. But his influence on school architecture extended far beyond the city’s borders, and my education was still affected by the innovations and principles he devised.

C.B.J. Snyder was born in 1860 and died in 1945. Between 1891 and 1897 he was the Superintendent of School Buildings for Manhattan and the Bronx, and after the creation of Greater New York in 1898, became the architect of all of the city’s schools until he retired in 1923.

Building at a Time of Great Growth in the City

Snyder was the school architect at the busiest time in New York City’s history. His predecessor only had to worry about Manhattan and the Bronx, but Snyder now had five boroughs’ schools under his wing.

He also took on this job just as the school population swelled with thousands of immigrant children, which overcrowded the schools. On top of that, new advances in education were being devised by the Board of Education, bringing vocational, technical and other specialized high schools into the mix with the city’s public schools.

The Board of Ed’s beancounters did not plan for large enough schools — or enough schools, period. Snyder had his hands full, both in keeping costs down and getting the most from what he was given.


This article is part of a series of real estate tips from Brooklyn broker Gabriele Sewtz of Compass, a specialist in the Brooklyn family market.

The NYC Department of Education School Finder

If you’re looking for a home in Brooklyn, and you either have kids or are thinking about having kids, it’s essential to research the local schools.

A detail as apparently trivial as what side of the street your home is on can decide which kindergarten your child is zoned for, and what elementary school he or she will eventually end up attending.

Keep in mind, too, that a home located in an in-demand school zone may sell for up to 15% higher than the house across the street in a different zone. This can be a good investment in a lot of ways, whether you think about selling your home in the future or how much you will save by not paying $25,000 or more a year for a private school.

Because of the Fair Housing Act, real estate agents are not permitted to discuss local schools when showing you a home. They can, however, direct you to information sources that can help you find out everything you need to know. And when it comes to the New York City school system, there’s a lot you need to know.

Following are some tips for navigating the New York City school system from Brooklyn real estate broker Gabriele Sewtz. As a mother, homeowner and landlord who moved to Park Slope in 1999, Sewtz has a lot of experience helping New York families find the right home for all their needs.