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A Richmond Hill elementary school may be the first in Queens to gain landmark status after the city Landmarks Preservation Commission considered the school’s case last week.
PS 66 was constructed in 1898 and has Victorian features, including round arches and a bell tower used to notify children on farms that school was starting.
“The school is architecturally gorgeous,” said Phyllis Leinwand, the school’s principal of eight years.
She called the school’s consideration for a landmark “a wonderful thing for Queens.”
PS 66 was known as the Brooklyn Hills School when it opened in 1901, after the name of a nearby development. It was renamed the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School in 2001, Leinwand said, in part because she promoted literacy and had a passion for historic preservation.
At the Manhattan hearing last week, Leinwand said LPC Commissioner Robert Tierney read a letter of endorsement from Onassis’ daughter, Caroline Kennedy.
While the school is expected to get an official decision early next year, Leinwand said she was optimistic that the commission will grant the school landmark status.
“My sense is that everyone is very happy about it and the feeling in my gut is that they’re endorsing it,” she said.
If approved, PS 66 would become the first elementary school in the borough to be landmarked.
Leinwand said the commission was influenced by the stream of letters it received from PS 66 students, who are told about the building’s historic nature by teachers.
“They were most impressed with the children’s letters,” she said. “The children are so proud of us now.”
The school has received recognition in the past.
PS 66 is on the list of national and state registers of historic places and was granted a Queensmark, a designation for historic places in the borough that have yet to be landmarked.
The landmarking effort was spearheaded by Nancy Cataldi, the late president of the Richmond Hill Historical Society.
Among the building’s historic qualities are its pitched roofs and columned arches.
The school underwent a historic renovation in 2001, which included repairs to the bell tower, Leinwand said.
Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e−mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 173.
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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