Letter: A school district preserving history

FILE PHOTO |  Pulaski Street School first opened in 1937.

To the editor:

The Riverhead Landmarks Preservation Commission commends the Riverhead Central School District and BBS Architects for developing plans for additions to the Roanoke Avenue and the Pulaski Street schools that are sensitive to their historic architecture.

The Roanoke Avenue School, which opened as a high school in 1924, is the oldest in the town. Reflecting the town’s understanding of the importance of education, it was referred to as the “million dollar school,” although it almost certainly did not cost nearly that much. With numerous Greek and Roman architectural allusions, this structure is a course in architectural history in itself. Recognizing its significance, the Riverhead Town Board designated it as an official town landmark in 2005. It is also included as a contributing building in the Downtown Riverhead Historic District, created by the Town Board in 2006.

The 1937 Pulaski Street School is perhaps even more architecturally interesting. Designed by a Southampton architect, William I. La Fon, nearly half the cost came from federal WPA funding designed to alleviate effects of the Great Depression. Although not officially designated yet as a town landmark, it is certainly equally deserving of that honor.

Recently, BBS Architects and school district representatives met with the commission and presented plans for additions to both structures. In each case the designs respect and replicate elements of the original historic architecture, but also adapt these buildings to fit current educational requirements.

We thank the Riverhead Central School District for being such a good custodian of the historic resources under its control.

We also want to thank school Superintendent Nancy Carney for asking the Landmarks Preservation Commission to review this project, even though there was no legal requirement for the district to do so.

Richard Wines, chairman, Riverhead Landmarks Preservation Commission