P.S. 186–Historical Educational Site in Harlem: What Will Be It’s Fate?

PS 186 in it’s Hey Days.

I have searched for historical information online regarding P.S. 186, A Harlem NY Elementary School of which my late mother Betty Peters attended between the years of 1932-1938. I have been pleasantly surprised to find any mention of the school, as I have googled P.S. 186 on a couple of previous occasions with no success. Very recently, I discovered that P.S. 186 had been abandoned for over 30 years and that currently a local movement has been ensued to save the structural building from demolition and deem it as a historical building as it has been around for over 107 years.I had written one of my mother’s dear friends Muriel Ferguson requesting information on Sugar Hill and things that she could share with me about my mother between the years of 1926-1950. In Muriel’s letter, she questioned if my mother ever mentioned P.S. 186. She also stated that the school probably had been demolished by now, since the school had been closed for many years.As I continued looking for answers regarding the fate of P.S. 186, I came across Nathan Kensinger, A Professional Photographer, who documents a world that the average eye does not have the opportunity to penetrate. He enters buildings that have not seen the light of day, and have been ultimately abandoned while being a victim to the elements. These buildings and outside structures that Kensinger captures with his lens possess very distinct architecture characteristics. Nathan gives us the vision to see how these buildings and structures were used in their heyday, and what they could be if they were revitalized. For a clearer picture of P.S. 186 and Kensinger’s other photographs of art go to:

As I continued researching online, I came across Dr. Faith (Jones) Ringgold, a world-renowned quilter, who was raised in Sugar Hill. I discovered that she attended P.S. 186, and thought to myself that if she attended this school, that there must be other well-known individuals that attended this school and should give credence to the historical value of the school building and the importance of saving such a structure. Dr. Ringgold’s 6th grade graduation picture is posted on her blog @ http://mjsoulpictures.blogspot.com/2009/08/faiths-6th-grade-graduation-in-1942.html.
Betty Mae Peters graduating class of 1938 at PS 186
Top 2nd Row, 5th person on left

Other’s that might have attended this school are: Harry Belafonte and Alan Greenspan. There are many well known individuals that lived in Sugar Hill, that the likelihood of other mover & Shakers being developed from this area and attending PS 186 is quite possible. I believe that we should make an effort to save the school by notifying NY local politicians, and pleading with those that have the ultimate decision on retaining the historical value of the neighborhood.

There was a petition to Save PS 186 that was posted online, of which 300 people signed, closed as of March 2010.
Uptownflavor has posted details of PS 186 and if you would like updated information on the progress of the petition and decision of the building to link to:

Update:  I had the opportunity to travel to Harlem and see firsthand the condition of PS-186.  The buildings architect was amazing…To see post click here. 

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