8. Erasmus Hall School House
Nestled in the heart of Brooklyn is one of New York City’s most impressive yet little known treasures – Erasmus Hall, a Gothic-style school that is reminiscent of the colleges at Oxford and Cambridge. Founded in 1786 in an area settled by the Dutch, Erasmus Hall is considered one of the oldest schools in the United States and was the first secondary school chartered by the New York State Regents. It was funded by some of the country’s most famous Founding Fathers including Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr and features notable alumni like Mae West, Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond. Today, five schools use the complex, now known as Erasmus Hall Educational Campus, which is filled with notable art and architecture.
Less visible from the outside is the original wooden clapboard school building that dates to 1786, which still exists inside the high school courtyard. The Federal style building was constructed by local Dutch families (the Flatbush area is also home the Flatbush Dutch Reformed Church, built in the decade following the school). The white paint has long been peeling and the green shutters in need of restoration. The columns were no longer supporting the structure amongst other significant damage, and in 2011, the 1786 building received a long-awaited grant for its restoration. The building still needs more love but in 2017 Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams pledged $650,000 of the capital budget for exterior restoration.
The stained glass of Erasmus High School is featured on the front cover of the second edition of the book Secret Brooklyn: An Unusual Guide, by Untapped Cities founder Michelle Young and the company’s CEO Augustin Pasquet.