Inside Look of the Liberty Street School After Almost 40 Years of Abandonment

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Last October the exciting news of the rehabilitation of the Liberty Street School was announced. Ever since then there has been an obvious curiosity to see inside the school. It has been vacant since the last class left almost 40 years ago in 1980. Thomas Burr Dodd of RipRap LLC was kind enough to share photos he took, documenting the monumental task of making this building safe for occupants. As can be seen in the photos entire floors and ceilings are missing. Tours are not being given of the school, nor should you try to gain access.

Before we take a look at the photos, I asked some key questions about the development of the school and the role RipRap hopes in play in the community.

What will the Liberty Street School become?
“RipRap LLC will repair and build out the school building at 1 Liberty and transform it into a multi-use creative space, giving attention to historic preservation as well as modern green building practices. The building will include studios for artists and entrepreneurs, as well as flexible spaces for galleries, classes, and community happenings. RipRap is hoping for a harmonious reinvigoration of the school building and the surrounding community.”

When will the work begin?
“Work has already begun to stabilize the building. Fingers crossed, the school will be operational in three years. The building will be available as a location for film shoots very soon, as we feel the space “as is” is incredibly beautiful.”

What is  RipRap’s commitment to the Newburgh community?
“In New York City, we have seen gentrification neutralize our creative incubators; hard-working artists and other makers continually seek out affordable, struggling neighborhoods and help these communities to thrive, only to find themselves and their neighbors priced out by skyrocketing rents. In Newburgh, RipRap hopes to add to the existing creative community by restoring and “upcycling” dormant infrastructures, like what we have achieved with the Brooklyn Fire Proof complexes in NYC. This time we are putting down deeper roots, and are extremely sensitive to the threat of displacement.

This past fall, RipRap started a community meeting called Navigating Newburgh, which meets on the first Thursday each month at Caffe Macchiato. This meeting pools experiences and resources in hopes of empowering residents and newcomers to buy their homes instead of renting, encouraging owner-occupied ARC-compliant restorations, and focusing on passive and environmentally-conscious building technology. RipRap LLC strives to be a resource and a cheerleader for homesteading hopefuls.”

RipRap has also taken over the Save the Liberty Street School Facebook page. Be sure to follow the page for up to date photos and announcements. All photos below are © Thomas Burr Dodd.

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Photos © Thomas Burr Dodd

6 Comment

  • Wow, it’s fully unrecognizable as a school.

  • Good luck Burr! it’s going to be worth the long haul.

  • Fabulous photos, Thomas Burr Dodd! thank you so much, What spaces! what history! how perfectly suited to the use planned for the building! This is exciting I hope you let us see ongoing progress as this moves to completion.

  • Thank you so much for sharing these incredible pictures of the school. I live in the Heights and for years we have hoped that something creative and aesthetic would be done with this historic building. Thomas Burr Dodd sounds like the man who can do it. I look forward to the development. Best of luck with the endeavor.

  • I attended kindergarten and first grade at Liberty Street School from 1946 to 1948

  • I went to school there in the early 60’s had Mr. Lassiter for Gym also remember Mr. Westbrook was a teacher ,as I recall. I think I also remember a Mrs. Goins.