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Open Mic: Loss of Historic Stone Walls at Schools

Larchmont–During the summer, improvements were planned for Murray Avenue School (built in 1922 according to the Larchmont Historical Society) and Chatsworth Avenue School (est. in 1902, according to Wikipedia)  in Larchmont, to mixed results:

murray wall
New main entrance, Murray Ave. School

murray wall

To the Editor:

I’ve been most upset to see our beautiful stone walls at our schools removed and replaced by cookie cutter, pre-made concrete blocks. What a downgrade! Amazing what they can hide in the budget.

Thanks for reporting,

Pam Washington
Larchmont
murray wall


chatswall
Chatsworth Ave. School from Addison Ave.

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Andrew Francella MD
Andrew Francella MD
7 years ago

It is hard to believe that the the entire wall surrounding Murray Ave School needed to be “replaced” with bleak lego style concrete blocks. Most stone walls can be repaired piece meal and the cost is much less then a total replacement. Has Larchmont and the tax payers been hoodwinked? I am sure all those beautiful stones were sold by the contractor for a pretty penny.

When I drive by i feel as though I am passing the wall of a penitentiary. The entrance of this historic school has been ruined. I don’t recognize the school I graduated from in 1976 or my son in 2010. The proportion of the individual blocks are too small and the rustic charm is absent. They were better suited for a retaining wall along some nameless roadway abutting an industrial park.

Now there is a proposal to “shorten” the width of the auditorium exterior stair case to create more “green space” that faces Murray Ave. We are told this will help decrease the cost of repairing these steps. This will just extend that horrible retaining wall further. Wasn’t the staircase designed by the architect from 1922 and altering this will effect the form and function of the building further? If i recall from my son’s events, plays, and graduation from Murray, as well as my own, this beautiful staircase allowed for easy egress and entrance into the auditorium and the school. It also gives a greater sense of openness and air around the building. Why close the space up more and create the feeling that Murray Ave School is a fortress or a prison.

Until recently I was on the board of the Larchmont Historical Society for six years. There is such a sense of place in Larchmont with regard to preserving the integrity and character of the community, as well as, making it a wonderful place to raise a family. I still cannot believe this wall was approved.

When it is determined that the brick walls of Murray Ave or Chatsworth Ave Schools need pointing and repair will the town approve a “cheap stucco” or fake brick facade to cover over everything? What about vinyl or aluminum siding?

Lets hope that no further damage is done and the auditorium staircase remains! Maybe Larchmont can buy back the stones and they can be placed over that hideous wall.

GC
GC
7 years ago

They are so ugly. What was wrong with the original walls that some new grouting could not fix?

larchmont neighbor
larchmont neighbor
7 years ago

The school looks foreboding and more like a prison than a place for children. I can’t imagine what people wanting to move to Larchmont will say when they see these ugly schools.

JB
JB
7 years ago

I totally agree. What were they thinking?

How can we know about these things in advance so we can speak up before it’s too late?

Don’t we still have an architectural review board to advise on plans which break every rule of harmony and aesthetics?

These forbidding-looking walls are of no use to anyone, except those who supplied them.

S
S
7 years ago

This is a shame. The wall has lost all the character and craftsmanship it once had. The concrete will look even worse with age. I thought maybe they were putting the concrete blocks in for support and then they were going to face the outside with original stonework. This is obviously not the case. Hopefully they are selling the stones to help pay for the costs.

amc
amc
7 years ago

Couldn’t agree more with all comments! It makes me sad every time I drive by… Who approved this? If it’s considered a historical building shouldn’t preserving its original look be top priority? Or was top priority finding the cheapest stone out there. It is ugly ugly ugly.

jhd
jhd
7 years ago

Truly very sad! Using Lego blocks to replace a beautifully old stone wall is just not right. I think there has been a true lack of appreciation for the history that was there. It has become terribly ugly, even the kids think its hideous.
I could have used the beautiful old stones for my garden…

Tracy Williamson
Tracy Williamson
7 years ago

Agree! It is so sad!! I’d love to know where that stone went…that is very valuable material…the contractor has it now?

J. Mark Lane
J. Mark Lane
7 years ago

Totally agree with Pam. The new walls are horrendously ugly. The old walls were beautiful. These remarkable, historic buildings are being ruined by people who apparently have no appreciation at all for architectural style and history. How the hell did this happen? And they can’t even get the stupid things straight (stand next to one of the new walls and eyeball the lines along the joints).

Nancy White
Nancy White
7 years ago

I agree – what was wrong with the old stone walls?

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