EX-BISHOP FORD, Windsor Terrace

by Kevin Walsh

I had been unaware that the former Bishop Ford High School, on 19th Street between 10th Avenue and Prospect Park West on the Park Slope-Windsor Terrace border, boasted a distinctive Asian cast in its architecture and signage, but there was a reason for that.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1892 [Francis Xavier] Ford became the first student to apply to the seminary of the recently established Catholic Foreign Mission Society, also known as Maryknoll. Ordained in 1918, he was one of the first four Maryknoll missioners to leave for China. In 1925 he was appointed head of the newly created mission territory of Kaying, or Meihsien (Meizhou), in the northeastern corner of Kwangtung (Guangdong) Province…. In December 1950 he was arrested by the Communists for alleged spying activities. Four months later, he was pronounced guilty and sentenced to the provincial prison in Canton. He died in jail of exhaustion and illness in February 1952. [BDCC Online]

The Chinese mission of Francis X. Ford is strikingly reflected in the design of the school. The cross which surmounts the pagoda on the roof is a landmark visible for miles. Red and black, the colors symbolic of the Chinese artistic tradition and the Maryknoll Fathers, permeate the school. These colors in the chapel, the main lobby, the auditorium, throughout the classrooms, are constant reminders of Bishop Ford and his contributions and good works. [Bishop Ford High School]

Even the lamps by the entrance have an Asian motif, with pagoda-like ornamentation.

Now known as the MS 442, Brooklyn Urban Garden Charter School, and PS 281 (see Comments), the building was constructed in 1962 on the site of former trolley barns. Falling enrollment prompted the Brooklyn Diocese to close the Catholic boys’ high school in 2014.

As always, “comment…as you see fit.” I earn a small payment when you click on any ad on the site.



Conrad Veraguth March 1, 2023 - 7:38 am

I graduated from Bishop Ford in 1973. I have many fond memories of the Teachers, Brothers, and fellow students. It was a great time in which to live in Brooklyn NY.

Janie D. March 1, 2023 - 7:57 am

Corrections: The building currently houses three schools: MS 442, Brooklyn Urban Garden Charter School, PS 281 and prior to this school year-a fourth-the Stanley S. Lamm pre-school was also located there for many years. Bishop Ford was initially a Catholic HS for boys, but in the late 1970s became coeducational and remained so until its closing.

Anthony Julian March 1, 2023 - 2:39 pm

I graduated from Ford in 1975. My wedding was in Singapore on July 4, 1987, but felt incomplete as only my mother was in attendance. We wanted a ceremony with my US friends and family, But IHM refused to let me use the church. Bishop Ford agreed to let us use their chapel, and Father Jack Waldren, who was close to our family for many years, performed the blessing. It was perfect.

Emmett Hoops March 1, 2023 - 4:42 pm

Growing up in that little slice of Brooklyn between the park and Greenwood Cemetery meant you lived in a small town that retained a small town character right up to the 1990s, when the price of rentals drove out the people who made it what it was. Living there meant you shopped at Associated on 9th Avenue; for bigger orders you went to Bohacks. You got your shoes fixed at Jack’s on 9th, got your hardware supplies at Bob’s, and your first communion at Holy Name. Graduating 8th grade from Holy Name (boys, of course) meant about 50% went to Ford. We didn’t know where the girls went because they were schooled on the third floor and boys on the second; the first floor was mixed for grades 1 and 2 (and administration, such as it was.)
I can’t imagine that neighborhood without Holy Name and Bishop Ford. Well, that neighborhood doesn’t exist any more. No kids play in the schoolyards; nobody sits out on their stoop; teachers, cops, and firefighters can’t afford to live there.

Edward F. March 2, 2023 - 11:01 am

Yes. Small town is a very accurate way to describe it. We were down the hill (Immaculate Heart Parish), so our shopping area was Prospect Avenue between Vanderbilt Street and Greenwood Avenue. A & P, Garfinkel’s Luncheonette, Von Seggern’s Delicatessen, Selinger’s, H. G. Yick’s Hand Laundry, E. F. Higgins Funeral Home. Mr. Quartana had a drugstore on the corner of Prospect Ave. and Reeve Place, now a restaurant. There was also a butcher shop complete with sawdust on the floor. We also went to Bohack’s for bigger orders.
I attended first grade at Immaculate Heart of Mary School (part of the last classes to attend the “old” school before it was replaced) on Fort Hamilton Parkway and had my parents stayed in Brooklyn I would likely have been Ford Class of ’78. Like Holy Name, IHM School is no more.
I notice you use 9th Avenue rather than Prospect Park West. My family had been in the area for several generations and it was always 9th Avenue and Coney Island Avenue instead of Prospect Park West and Prospect Park Southwest, even though the names had been changed long, long ago.

Edward F. March 1, 2023 - 8:27 pm

The Pagoda atop Bishop Ford High School has been a local landmark for years. (I believe the cross has since been removed.) Another prominent local landmark (now demolished) was the smokestack of the Pilgrim Laundry, which occupied the block bordered by Prospect and 11th Avenues, 17th Street and Terrace Place.

Andy March 1, 2023 - 9:21 pm

The trolley car barns on the Bishop Ford site housed the last three Brooklyn trolley routes – #68 Coney Island Ave. (converted to bus Nov. 1955 and still running), #50 McDonald Ave. (stopped in Oct. 1956 without bus replacement), and #35 Church Ave. (converted to bus in Oct. 1956 and still running).

therealguyfaux March 1, 2023 - 9:53 pm

The Diocese of Brooklyn’s HQ is across PPW from the campus.

Henry Vitiello March 2, 2023 - 8:52 am

I graduated in75. It was a really great time and place to go to school! There was a store that sold big heroes across the street. I can’t remember the name?

Celeste Dee March 3, 2023 - 12:57 am

My Aunt Celeste Coigne cooked and took care of
the Brothers there for a number of years in the early 70’s.
She used to bring me to work with her sometimes.
Fond memories.

John Brandt March 4, 2023 - 11:14 am

My family attended the open house when Bishop Ford first opened in 1962 (?) I remember the “oriental” motif and the story about Bishop Ford being prominent during that visit.


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.