PS 9 opened in 1867. Mrs. Dunkley was its first principal, recalled M.F. Egan in 1927 speaking to the Brooklyn Eagle Newspaper. Ms. Egan also remembered the school’s humble beginning as a four class room wooden shack on Lincoln Place east of Underhill Avenue.
In 1895 the “old PS 9” opened on the corner of Vanderbilt Avenue and Sterling Place. Looking today at the beautiful, residential property, it’s hard to believe that in the not too distant past parents, students, and community members all wanted the building razed.
The “new PS 9” on Underhill and Bergen was built in 1957 and was meant to replace the older school. However, due to a growing student population and overcrowding, it was kept open as an annex for third and fourth graders. By 1969, the original school building was so old and dilapidated that rain poured through holes in its roof, its walls were crumbling, and people feared for the safety of the 450 students who attended classes there.
In 1972 hundreds of students, teachers, and parents held a “teach-out” and conducted classes outside on the sidewalk in windy, below-freezing weather. Protestors condemned the structure as a firetrap with no fireproofing, fire escapes, or public address system.
By 1975 the annex had been closed down and in 1980 the property was sold by the Board of Education to the New York City Department of Real Property. Subsequently, after some minor renovations, the building served for a short period as a community center. But by the mid 1980s the building was vacant, the victim of renewed deterioration and vandalism.
In 1987 a brand new street sign was put up outside the building by the New York City Department of Transportation that read, “No Parking on School Days.” But by then the school had not been used for 15 years. Today, the building is a residential coop that is the envy of the neighborhood.
This is a reprint of an article that I wrote several years ago for News at 9, the school's PTA newsletter. Many thanks to Andrew Draper for the historical research, without which this article could not have been written.