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Carroll Gardens residents rally to save historic school from demolition

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Developers are planning to replace the former Hans S. Christian Memorial Kindergarten with a six-story luxury condo

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Residents of Carroll Gardens are uniting to prevent a historic freestanding school from meeting the wrecking ball and having a luxury condo rise in its place.

According to the Brooklyn Eagle, community members have been rallying against plans to demolish the Hans S. Christian Memorial Kindergarten, located at 236 President Street, and are making a push to have the historic building and its neighboring building, 238 President Street, given landmark status.

For a bit of history, the French Renaissance-style building was designed by architecture firm Hough & Duell and dates back to the late 1800s. In 1897, neighborhood resident Elmira Christian purchased the building at 238 President Street and its neighboring lot at 236 President Street, donating the former to the Methodist Episcopal Church and constructing the kindergarten building on the latter (though the school’s address today is now 236 President Street).

According to city property records, the United Methodist City Society owned both 236 and 238 President streets, which were considered one property, until 1974, when the religious organization split the lot and sold the former kindergarten to husband and wife Giuseppe and Fortunata Gangemi, reports the Brooklyn Eagle. Shortly after the death of Mrs. Gangemi’s death, the building was listed for sale in 2016 and development firm Avo Construction is set to close on the sale this month.

Neighborhood residents have submitted a request for urgent evaluation to have the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission to have the two buildings considered for landmarking, but this wouldn’t be the first time that a push to save the historic buildings has reached the LPC. During the 2009 rezoning of Carroll Gardens, former Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz suggested landmarking the kindergarten, but the LPC noted that too many modifications had been made to the building so residents did not pursue it.

This time around, preservation efforts are moving forward and more than 2,000 letters and messages of support for the landmarking have been to sent the LPC and to various local officials. Additionally, a petition is circulating and has garnered over 1,000 thus far. A spokesperson for the LPC told the Brooklyn Eagle that they have received the landmarking requests for 236 and 238 President streets and that it is “currently under review.”