New York PS-186 -An Abandoned School in Harlem

Michele Wallace & Yvette Porter Moore walking up to PS-186

On my list of places to go during my research trip to Harlem, was to visit the old abandoned school that my mother attended in 1933-1938.  PS-186 which is located at 523 West 145th Street and Amsterdam Avenue had been opened in 1903 and shut down in 1975.

Prior research of PS-186 led me to a blog written by Michele Wallace, the daughter of Faith Jones Ringgold, a world renowned quilter, and artist.  Michele had posted a class picture of her mother from PS-186, and when I saw it, I thought it resembled my mother’s graduating 6th grade class picture.  At that point I contacted Michele to get permission to mention her blog and the picture that she posted as I immediately felt a connection to her and her mother. Through further investigation, I discovered that Michele’s grandmother Willi Posey was a fashion designer in Harlem just like my grandmother, so I immediately needed and wanted to know more about this intriguing family whose paths crossed my family’s life.  (Blog below)

Faith Ringgold at PS-186-Graduating Class of 1942

http://mjsoulpictures.blogspot.com/search/label/Faith%20Ringgold%20

So in June of 2010, my daughter Vanessa and I, flew to New York for the first time.  I wanted to walk in the footsteps of my late mother, Betty Mae Peters Porter, and to discover the life she had lived before coming to Los Angeles and then eventually settling in San Diego, CA.  My mother did not talk much about her Beloved, Sugar Hill, New York, at least not to me, but there were times that I overheard her speaking about Sugar Hill to her friends, and my father.  My end purpose for researching my mother is to put together the pieces of my mother’s memoir that she had intended to write, as she left tape recordings and some journals of which I have inherited.

Photos by Vanessa Moore

Front of PS-186
Wonderful detail and architecture of PS-186

Michele and I enjoyed the day looking at the old PS-186 and wondered what would become of such a wonderful structure that had become an eye-sore of the community, but yet and still there appears to be some hope to revitalize the building and making it grand as it was in its’ earlier days.

On the Backside of PS-186
Michele Wallace & Yvette Porter Moore in thought about PS-186
Bulletin Board can be seen through missing window
PS-186 view of broken out window
Walking on 145th Street past PS 186

It is my hope that the local historians of Harlem take on the task of writing the history of the people that attended PS-186, as it is my understanding, that many great individuals were educated at this school such as Harry Belafonte, Faith Jones Ringgold, Arthur Mitchell, and many others.  This information might shine some light upon the abandoned school and push the powers to finally do something about this building instead of waiting until they can demolish it and put high rise apartments in its place.

Copyright
The material, both written and photographic on these pages is the copyright of Yvette Porter Moore unless stated. Material on this site may be used for personal reference only. If you wish to use any of the material on this site for other means, please seek the written permission of Yvette Porter Moore
© 2010-2011

THE TOWN HALL (The League For Political Education)

(Program from 1933)

As I was searching through my mother’s scrapbook and keepsakes, I came across an old program that was in my mother’s possession.  This was the 1st program of which she was in at the Town Hall.  My mother was always a part of a singing group or Choir when she was growing up.  She was from a long-line of Singers and musicians in her family.
(According to Wikpedia) The Town Hall opened January 12, 1921, and was for the purpose of bringing forthe information of Political Education.  The Town Hall was built by The League for Political Education, whose fight for passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution led them to commission the building of a meeting space where people of every rank and station could be educated on the important issues of the day. The space, which became The Town Hall, was designed by the renowned architectural firm of McKim, Mead & White, to reflect the democratic principles of the League. To this end, box seats were not included in the theater’s design, and every effort was made to ensure that there were no seats with an obstructed view. This design principle gave birth to The Town Hall’s long-standing mantra: “Not a bad seat in the house.”
Since The Town Hall (also known as simply Town Hall) opened its doors on January 12, 1921, it has not only become a meeting place for educational programs, gatherings of activists, and host for controversial speakers (such as the American advocate of birth control Margaret Sanger, who was arrested and carried off The Town Hall stage on November 13, 1921, for attempting to speak to a mixed-sex audience about contraception), but as one of New York City’s premiere performance spaces for music, dance, and other performing arts. While the lecture series and courses on political and non-political subjects sponsored by the League continued to be held there, The Town Hall quickly established a reputation as an arts center during the first fifteen years of its existence.
The Town Hall has also had a long association with the promotion of poetry in the United States, which predates Edna St. Vincent Millay’s public poetry reading debut at the Hall in 1928. The Hall has retained a close association with poets and poetry that continues to this day.
There is not a wealth of information on the Town Hall on the internet, so this will be one of the places I will go to on my trip to New York.  I called to see if there were archives of the Town Hall and I was refered to the Lincoln Center of Performing arts.  I was informed that the archives are located at the New York Public Library in the Theatre Division on 65th and Broadway, on the 2nd Floor directly across from the Metropolitan Opera.  When I heard of the location, I was so there in spirit as I have heard so much about Marian Anderson and her singing debut at the Metropolitan Opera on January 7, 1955.  She was the first African American to sing on that stage…Oh how I feel the chills and goose bumps!!!
(How The Town Hall Looks Today)

Copyright
The material, both written and photographic on these pages is the copyright of Yvette Porter Moore unless stated. Material on this site may be used for personal reference only. If you wish to use any of the material on this site for other means, please seek the written permission of Yvette Porter Moore
© 2010-2011