Many people may recall the “little red schoolhouse” that was replaced by the current P.S. 128 on Juniper Valley Road. But it’s likely that few remember the controversial schoolhouse that stood there before that.
In the 1850s, a one-room wooden schoolhouse was built at Juniper Valley Road and what is now 69th Place. Both this original building and its replacement burned down, and the third version was constructed in 1880. As you can imagine, space in this school was limited, and as Middle Village became developed during the 20th century, this type of building design became outdated.
In 1926, a brand new school named P.S. 128 was authorized by the city. A “temporary” one-story wood frame structure was constructed at the opposite end of the parcel, at 70th Street and Juniper Valley Road, to accommodate population growth in the area. It housed 5 classrooms, a teacher’s lounge and its occupancy allowed for 225 pupils. The cost of this building was estimated at around $30,000.
By 1929, the school was considered overcrowded and was being lambasted by the local school board president as “a fire menace”. Calls began for it to be replaced with a more modern structure. However, the school continued to serve the area for 10 more years.
As feared, on December 16, 1940, a fire at the school damaged it so severely that it had to be closed. After an inspection, it was determined that the estimated cost of repairs exceeded expectations and there were not enough funds available to cover them.
It was a desperate situation as more of the surrounding lands were being developed and the children in these new projects were overburdening other local schools, such as P.S. 49. Unfortunately, no funds were allocated by the city to undertake a new building project at this time.
The property remained vacant for about a decade before the modest brick schoolhouse that most of us remember was built in 1950. After 59 years of service, the population of the district was booming once again, so that building was demolished and replaced in 2009 by the much larger current structure.