The Gorgeous Schools of Charles B.J. Snyder
Explore the stunning architecture of NYC public schools designed by Charles B.J. Snyder as detailed in the book From Factories to Palaces by the late Jean Arrington!
- Learn why Snyder’s innovative approach to designing educational spaces was revolutionary
- See historic and modern images of lost and extant buildings that the former Superintendent of School Buildings designed
- Discover the new purpose that some of Snyder’s former school buildings serve today
About the event:
In this talk, Cynthia LaValle and Mike Janoska will present a look at New York City public schools designed and built during the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries. This subject was thoroughly researched and presented by award-winning author, Jean Arrington, in her monograph, From Factories to Palaces Architect Charles B. J. Snyder and the New York City Public Schools, published by Fordham University Press in June of 2022.
After a career as a tenured English professor at Peace College and bringing up her family in Raleigh, NC, it was time for Jean to follow a dream of relocating to NYC, a city that had always stirred her imagination. While looking for part-time employment that first summer, she developed a passion for the magnificent turn-of-the-century buildings that still serve thousands of New York’s public school students.
After a number of research years, traveling the city, and visiting all the existing school buildings, meeting many interesting people, learning about architecture, and also about the history of education in NYC, she was faced with a life altering difficulty. Unfortunately, in 2018 Jean was diagnosed with Multiple Systems Atrophy (MSA).
In 2019, when Jean no longer had the physical ability to carry on with the book, Jean along with Cindy LaValle, Snyder’s great grand-daughter, created a project team that saw the book through to completion. During the review process in January 2022, Jean sadly perished. She left knowing that her book would be published, and word would get out allowing others the opportunity to enjoy this remarkable man’s achievements.
As Superintendent of School Buildings from 1891 to 1922, architect Charles B. J. Snyder elevated the standards of school architecture. Unprecedented immigration and Progressive Era changes in educational philosophy led to his fresh approach to design and architecture, which forever altered the look and feel of twentieth-century classrooms and school buildings. Students rich or poor, immigrant or native New Yorker, went from learning in factory-like schools to attending classes in schools with architectural designs and enhancements that to many made them seem like palaces.
About Cynthia Skeffington LaValle and Michael Richard Janoska
Cynthia Skeffington LaValle, originally from Babylon, New York, and a great-granddaughter of Snyder’s, has worn a few hats throughout life–always in the healthcare field–registered nurse, computer programmer, project manager, and management consultant. In 2019, when Jean, with health concerns, could use some assistance, Cindy managed the project and team that brought this book to the finish line.
Michael Richard Janoska, from Plainview, New York, a retired land and city survey technician by day and custodian in the Sayville School District, by night, was designated the resident-historian by Jean. He was charged with investigation of numerous questions presented by the team, performed text edits, and provided a glossary of architectural terminology for those just delving in to the subject of architecture.
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