Generally Speaking: New school rises at old precinct house site

A new school, designated as P.S. 557, is under construction at the site of the old 68th Precinct stationhouse on the southeast corner of Fourth Avenue and 43rd Street. What’s unique about the new building is that it incorporates the existing front and side façade of the historic three-story precinct into the new three- to five-story school.  

The school will serve 332 students from pre-kindergarten to fifth grade. It will include a gymnasium, rooftop playground, classrooms, music and reading resource rooms and a “cafetorium,” which is School Construction Authority jargon for a combination cafeteria and auditorium.

The stationhouse was built in 1886 for the Brooklyn city police force’s 18th Precinct, at a time when the area was considered a part of Bay Ridge. It had an adjacent two-story stable, a paddy wagon on the first floor and a hayloft on the second. The precinct later became the 68th, and since the 1960s the area has been recognized as Sunset Park.

Rendering of the new P.S. 557.

Retired NYPD Det. Peter Killen, a past president of the Bay Ridge Community Council, started his career as a patrolman at the old 68th Precinct from 1968-70 and moved to the new stationhouse at 333 65th St. when it opened. He said the old building had a coal-fired furnace and a siren system on the roof that was tested at noon each day.

During our research on the old building, we found it was a then-modern replacement for a stationhouse on Third Avenue and 37th Street. The castle-like building on Fourth Avenue and 43rd Street, which was designed by architect George Ingram employing a Romanesque Revival Style configuration, was designated a New York City Landmark in 1983 and is also listed in the State and National Registers of Historic Places.

Brooklyn landlord and developer Yosef Streicher bought the precinct building in 2016 from the Brooklyn Chinese American Association for $6 million and reportedly planned a $5 million restoration, which never occurred. He later sold it to the SCA.

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