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PS 64 the Landmark

PS 64 – El Bohío Building
Margaret Hayden

With all the buzz around the rezoning of the Lower East Side, we wanted you to know about Place Matters and The Municipal Art Society’s featured Place that Matters of the Week. This week we’re featuring P.S. 64 on East 9th Street.

As you know, in June the Landmarks Commission designated the building a city landmark for its cultural and architectural value. But the owner is going full speed ahead stripping the schools’ terra-cotta detailing with a permit obtained before the designation. The school has a long history of community involvement – It was taken over by local groups in the 1970s who refurbished it after years of decline and turned it into a cultural center.

And this past weekend, electeds got together to rename East 9th Street between Avenues B and C, Armando Perez Place, in honor of one of the leaders of the movement to reclaim the building in the 70s.

P.S. 64 is a unique emblem of community activism on the Lower East Side. Designed by C.B.J Snyder, an important architect of New York City’s public schools in the early 20th Century, it fell into disrepair during the city-wide disinvestment of the early 1970s. Recognizing its value, two community-based groups, Adopt-A-Building and CHARAS transformed the building into a community center known as El Bohío.

El Bohío means hut and the term signifies a friendly public space for community use. The building has a long history of hosting community gatherings on the Lower East Side. When it was built in 1904, Snyder introduced the ground floor auditorium, an innovation in school architecture. In a neighborhood full of recent immigrants, the auditorium was a free public assembly place in which children and more importantly, parents could gather as a new community.

In this tradition of community gathering and cooperation, the building’s refurbishment was led by community activist Armando Perez and many others who invested their dedication and hours of sweat equity to bring the building back to life and turn it into a cultural center on the Lower East Side.

Despite its uncertain future, the legacy of P.S. 64 and the grassroots community campaign that brought it back to life lives on. East 9th Street between Avenues B and C was this past weekend renamed Armando Perez Place, in honor of the neighborhood activism that shepherded the building and the Lower East Side into the 21st Century.

Read more about P.S. 64 in the Census of Places that Matter

Find out about 579 places that matter in all the boroughs


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