St. Francis De Sales School for the Deaf

260 Eastern Parkway
Robert J. Reilly

The construction of this large school was inspired by Crown Heights South’s inexpensive land, nearby public transportation and a growing Catholic population, while the building’s Beaux-Arts design was inspired by that of the Brooklyn Museum across the street. Its most striking feature is an impressive colonnade running almost the entire length of the building. Originally constructed as the Bishop McDonnell Memorial High School for Girls, its students were known as “Memorialites” and were all awarded tuition-free scholarships until the 1960s. In another design nod to the museum, whose façade is engraved with the names of historic figures known for their contributions to the arts, philosophy, science and literature, the school features the names of female saints engraved above the third-floor windows. The high school closed in 1973, and was repurposed as a school for the deaf. The building’s architect, Robert J. Reilly, trained at Columbia University and worked extensively with the Catholic diocese of New York. Reilly was also a protégé of Ernest Flagg, known as much for his mastery of Beaux-Arts design as for his advocacy of urban reform and the social responsibility of architecture.