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Do You Remember?

"A Bit Of Bronx History Still In Use Today"

Little Red Schoolhouse
The Little Red Schoolhouse as it now stands.
Photo courtesy of Ron Schliessman

(Reprinted from the Bronx Times Reporter September 26, 1991)

Free grammar school was established in New York in 1702 by the General Assembly and the first public school opened in 1705 under the Church of England. A hundred years later the Free School Society was formed to provide a free education for poor children not reached by the church schools. The first school opened under their auspices was in lower Manhattan.

From those humble beginnings, free schooling soon came to be expected and the responsibility was assumed by the various municipalities.

Among the earliest schools to open in the Bronx was the "Little Red Schoolhouse" of the Town of Eastchester. It was founded in 1877 when that portion of the Bronx east of the Bronx River was still part of Westchester County. The area was annexed to New York City in 1895 and the school located at 4010 Dyre Avenue came under the city's jurisdiction.

It was officially designated P.S. 15 but the cognomen "Little Red Schoolhouse" remained the unofficial name. It's small size greatly limited the number of students it could accept and eventually it became an annex to P.S. 68. By 1955 the total enrollment was only 84 and the practicality of using the building as a primary educational facility was already being questioned.

Mrs. Ethel Powers was the principal of both P.S. 68 and P.S. 15 in that year and Mrs. Christabelle Meyer served as teacher-in-charge. Mrs. Meyer had taught at the school since 1937 and also taught first and second grades. The school held on for another twenty years before the inevitable happened and it was closed by the city.

The spirit of the teachers, students and community residents, however, gave vent to the establishment of a committee to save the "Little Red Schoolhouse." The committee was formed in April of 1977 and their efforts succeeded in re-opening the schoolhouse as a community cultural center. Their further efforts resulted in the building being designated historic landmark status on January 10, 1978.

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