Erasmus Hall, named for Dutch philosopher Desiderius Erasmus, presents two historic buildings in one location at Flatbush and Church Avenues. Its white clapboard Federal-style building, constructed in 1787, housed the private academy instituted by the Reformed Dutch Church across the street. The first class numbered 26 students.
The older building isn’t visible from the street, however, since it is surrounded by the Gothic, fortress-like Erasmus Hall High School, constructed in 1905. The original academy was funded by several Founding Fathers, including Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr (who didn’t agree on much else). The academy became a high school in 1896: it can boast famous alumni such as entertainers Barbra Streisand, Beverly Sills and Neil Diamond. The historic academy, known by students and faculty as “the white house” can usually be glimpsed from the iron gate guarding the high school.
The “new” school, which resembles a European fortress, contains eclectic stained glass windows, including some Tiffanys above the front entrance. The interior was completely renovated in the early 2010s.
In 1994, after years of poor academic scores, the huge Erasmus Hall High School was divided internally into five smaller high schools, each concentrating on a different academic area. The five schools have separate administrations and faculties, and hold classes in different sections of the large building. However, they use the common lunchroom, gymnasia, library and auditorium at separate times during the day. This division created no changes on the exterior of the building. –wikipedia
The statue of Erasmus in front of the historic building was dedicated in 1931 and was recast from the original 1622 work still displayed in Rotterdam, Netherlands. The inscription on the base reads:
Desiderius Erasmus, the maintainer and restorer of the sciences and polite literature, the greatest man of his century, the excellent citizen who, through his immortal writings, acquired an everlasting fame.
The old academy building is one of FNY’s holy grails, as I’ve never been by when the gate is open and I assume a shambling figure with a camera would be set upon by guards during school hours. Someday…