Former Public School 109

215 East 99th Street
Charles B. J. Snyder, 1899
conversion: Hamilton Houston Lownie Architects and Victor Morales Architects 2015

Public School 109 was designed by C. B. J. Snyder, superintendent of school buildings for the Board of Education from 1891 to 1923. Roughly 400 schools were constructed during his tenure, when the city’s population was growing and new laws mandated children’s education. Snyder was a great innovator, incorporating advances in fireproofing and air circulation, as well as laying out buildings in an H-plan, like P.S. 109, to increase light and air to classrooms and provide opportunities for recreation. With its many decorative details, the Collegiate Gothic style building is a great example of Snyder’s emphasis on the power of aesthetics in architecture. The school was decommissioned in 1995 and sat neglected for about 15 years until its restoration and conversion to artists’ housing. It reopened in 2015 as El Barrio’s Artspace/PS109, holding 89 units of affordable live/work space and 10,000 square feet for arts organizations. Artspace is a nonprofit that operates 35 arts facilities in 15 states.

The Former Public School 109 is listed on the State and National Register of Historic Places.