Museum Idea, Nothing New

The text below is from “The Greenpoint Star” newspaper in 1967. At that time P.S 34 On Norman Avenue had just turned a hundred and the writer advocated for turning the school into a museum. Earlier in 1936 at the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Monitor’s launch Pete McGuinness also advocated for a Monitor Museum.

THE Idea  t h a t Public School 34 on Norman Avenue may be worth preserving for community use after its planned replacement is built was voiced this week by State Senator Edward Lentol. His *words calling for community considera- tion of the possibilities deserve constructive re- sponse from other Greenpoint leaders.

Now is the time for thought, talk and study about whether or not this historic structure should suffer demoli- tion after the new planned P.S. 22 opens in two, three or so years. An April 7th Star editorial suggested that the building might be suitable for conversion to a museum and community center. The sturdy school is about to observe its centennial come this September, but it has other historic potential too. A replica of the Monitor might stand in one of its schoolyards for the education of visiting adults and the delight of children. Inside the building, rooms could be devoted to famous Greenpointers Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes, the Cooper family of Cooper Park and Cooper Union, the John Englis shipping family, artists George Innis and Albert Ralph Blakelock, enter- tainer Mae West, Francis S. Street of the well- known Street and Smith publications, Neziah  Bliss of Blissville, women’s rights Presidential hopeful Belva Lockwood, the Fleischmann yeast family, and of course, Peter McGuinness. Other rooms could deal with the crafts and industries in whose histories Greenpoint played a large role: pottery, ship building, glass, gas, iron and oil. *** NOW IS NOT the time for launching a cam-paign or movement to create such a museum, but rather this is the moment for inquiry, discussion, and thought. Is the building sound enough to stand another 25 years or so of use ? Would the city consider this a landmark worth preserving? Would the famous families and rich industries be willing to con tribute exhibits and funds to help maintain such a museum? Would city, state and federal representatives be willing to seek financial support for the project at their respective levels? Would already overworked community leaders shoulder another project, one of vast scope? Much more needs to be known before a firm judgment can be made on continued community use of P.S. 34, but at least a start has been made in that direction, thanks to State Seantor Lentol’s statement. This much is certain. Such a museum would be more than just an attraction to tourists, bring ing additional customers near the main shopping district. It would really put Greenpoint “on the map,” giving it recognition long overdue, and would be a big plus in the never-ending struggle to preserve a community identity.

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