An Abandoned Treasure May Soon Be Lost – The Fight to Save St. Paul’s

Over the past few months, I’ve been getting letters from readers about an abandoned school in Garden City, Long Island, called St. Paul’s, on the verge of being demolished. Last Friday, I hopped the train with my bike and camera to have a look for myself.

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It took less than five minutes to bike to St. Paul’s from the Garden City train station. Located in the center of town, the beautiful High-Victorian Gothic-style 500-room structure was built in 1879 as an all boy’s prep school, and was in use until 1991 (over a century!).

Today, despite being in fantastic shape, it is completely vacant.

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Taking pictures of this awesome building, I have to admit – it was actually difficult to imagine so commanding a structure being subjected to a wrecking ball. And yet, a village-wide opinion poll was held in 2008, in which a majority of residents voted for its demolition, a course the town is actively pursuing.

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Except, here’s the funny thing. On the ballot in 2008 were three options: 1) demolition (2,272 votes), 2) saving the exterior only (1,857 votes), and 3) converting the building into condos (873 votes) – in other words, two proposals to save the building, and one to destroy it. I’m no genius, but it looks to me that a majority of the town (2,730 votes) definitely wants to keep St. Paul’s alive.

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So strange, then, that they’re moving ahead on the demolition proposal. A passionate public hearing regarding the matter was held on August 19th, and a final hearing will occur on September 30th. A town vote will then be taken, and St. Paul’s fate will be decided.

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Suddenly, as I was taking pictures, it dawned on me: maybe the reason Garden City is willing to demolish St. Paul’s is because they’ve got similarly amazing buildings strewn all over town! Maybe clocktowers and gothic spires and beautiful brick work are commonplace in Garden City, to the point where one building won’t be missed.

I decided to take a little tour on my bike in search of something – anything! – as grand and impressive as St. Paul’s. My first stop was obvious: the incredible Garden City Hotel:

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Built in 1901, the Garden City Hotel was renowned as one of Long Island’s premier hotels, located in the center of a golf course and host to such families as the Vanderbilts and the Morgans.

Only, I was a little late getting there. It was torn down in 1973, and replaced with this thing in the 80′s.

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[Note: if this is a four star hotel, as it's website claims, it is by far the tackiest four star hotel I've ever been to.]

Oh well – one gone, but surely there was much more to see. I decided to move on to another historic Garden City location: Roosevelt Field.

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A former military airfield and airport, Roosevelt Field served as the take-off point for one of the most famous flights in aviation history: Charle Lindbergh’s solo transatlantic flight in 1927. Here he is prior to departure in Garden City:

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A number of other famous pilots, including Amelia Earhart, used the field at some point, and I was looking forward to seeing some sort of historic remnant from a property with such an historic past.

Except it was turned into a mall in the 1950′s.

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OK, don’t get me wrong – I’m not expecting a decommissioned airfield to remain vacant for 60+ years. But at the very least, I was hoping for some sort of sign that the town had a respect for its history – maybe a sign or something to commemorate the events that occurred here. I biked around for about 10 minutes, but didn’t find anything. Apparently, I should have gone inside – a small plaque is located in front of the Disney Store.

I decided to continue my search into town.

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After biking around town for a solid four hours, I must say that Garden City seems like a very pleasant place to live. For one thing, there’s an endless abundance of trees. Trees trees trees. It seems like every street in town has about 20 or 30 trees to its name, and it really is very pleasant.

It’s also one of those towns that has a lot of gazebos, though I didn’t see anyone actually sitting in one.

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The main downtown area is also pleasant, with additional trees and a nice collection of shops and eateries.

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I had a nice sandwich in the 7th Street Deli.

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Another commercial area on the edge of town:

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The town library:

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A new apartment complex across the street from St. Paul’s:

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I then ventured into Garden City’s residential areas, where you find houses like this…

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…and this…

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…and this…

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…and this…

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…and this…

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…and these…

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…and these…

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…and this.

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I think it’s fair to say that what you’ve seen above represents 99.99% of what Garden City consists of. It’s nice and pleasant and pretty, and you could tear down any one of the above structures, and as long as you put up a decent-enough replacement, no one would ever notice the difference.

Again: what you’ve seen above is 99.99% of Garden City.

Now let’s look at the other .01% of Garden City, the unique and historical gems that have managed to survive public shortsightedness and soulless developers.

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These beautiful Victorian houses are known as the Apostles, and date back to the late 1800′s.

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Garden City was originally founded as a planned community by millionaire Alexander Turney Stewart, who purchased land from Hempstead Plains. The Apostles were the first homes built, the oldest nine dating to 1872.

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Thankfully, the demise of the Garden City Hotel was not totally in vain. Watching the wrecking ball slam into bricks, a small group of citizens vowed that such a tragedy would never happen again, and in 1975, the Garden City Historical Society was founded.

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Over time, 54 Stewart-era homes have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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A great example of stupidity:

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Garden City is also home to the beautiful gothic Church of the Incarnation…

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…which is covered with a dizzying number of spires and flying buttresses.

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Also on the property is the stunning parish house:

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There are a few other buildings of note around town, including several schools and the town’s post office. But with the possible exception of the church, I couldn’t find a single one to match the grandeur and beauty of St. Paul’s.

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Since the town purchased St. Paul’s in 1993, its future has been a source of contention amongst Garden City residents, and the full history of debate is not worth recounting.

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Still, as evidenced by the last poll in 2008, a majority of residents want it to be preserved in one form or another, and the ultimate vote for demolition must still be passed by a voter referendum.

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Demolition itself is not cheap; it is estimated to cost nearly $6 Million to get rid of St. Paul’s once and for all. Meanwhile, the Committee to Save St. Paul’s has presented a plan that would preserve the exterior and parts of the interior for the same cost. However, annual upkeep would cost taxpayers approximately $200,000.

One resident was quoted in the Garden City News as saying, “While I realize that St. Paul’s is an iconic Stewart building, I feel that the history and character and intelligence of Garden City is not defined by any one structure…I believe…that there is a very large number of residents who are thoroughly sick of the ongoing situation and would like the saga of St. Paul’s to end.”

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This maybe the case, but I really, really hope St. Paul’s isn’t demolished simply due to frustration. Preservation is always a battle, but it is a battle worth fighting. If for no better reason, simply look at the gym addition built onto St. Paul’s in 1962 as an example of what society has come to find acceptable  in its standards for architecture:

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This is the world we live in today.

When the magnificent Pennsylvania Station was torn down in New York City, the following was written in a NY Times editorial:

“Any city gets what it admires, will pay for, and, ultimately, deserves…We want and deserve tin-can architecture in a tinhorn culture.

“And we will probably be judged not by the monuments we build but by those we have destroyed.”

If you feel strongly about the preservation of St. Paul’s, the public comment period is ongoing until September 30, and your voice could make a difference! Send an email to mayor@gardencityny.net with your comments. I’ll post information on the September 30th town meeting later in the month.

-SCOUT

PS – I wish I could have toured the inside, but it is currently off limits. Luckily, you can find a full look at the interior here.

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58 comments

  1. Talk about a rigged election….

  2. Why would anyone other than a developer or someone else who stands to profit off of St. Paul’s demolition want something like that to be destroyed? The things these people expect the public to believe! Incredible!!!

  3. Damn, I wish I lived there so I could fight it all with you. Hope this post works to put some fire under folks to save the place.

  4. Pretty sure a big plaque commemorating Lindbergh’s flight is inside the mall. Which makes sense – more people would likely see it that way than if it was in some random spot in the parking lot.

  5. For evidence of the decommissioned airfield, you should have gone slightly Southeast, to Mitchell field. There’s still several airplane hangars standing, which have been converted into an IMAX theater and the Cradle of Aviation museum. There’s plenty of coverage of Roosevelt Field’s past there! :)

  6. It’s so disgusting how often this happens. I only wish the idiots who favor new will see how ugly and cheapened our towns are getting. Thanks so much for this post.

  7. It is a shame at all the greedy have destroyed in this country.

    “Investors” are trying the same where I live but are having no luck getting demolition permits so they just let the buildings set and rot.

    I wish I had the money to buy something like this. I would turn it into a small community of very nice condos. Or maybe even a set of shops and artists studios.

  8. I’m not sure how things work in the US but here in the UK we have a system called listing (i may be teaching my Grandmother to suck eggs here and apologise if i am telling you something you already know) where by buildings of architectural or historical interest are protected by government legislation. it doesnt always work but its the often the first step in getting a threatened building saved.
    St Pauls, if in the UK, would almost certainly be listed. Do you not have a similar process in the US?

    • “Listing” here in the states– being listed as a National Historic Site”, does not protect the site. It does not pay the bills, and private owners still control the site’s fate.

  9. Scout,

    As someone noted above, there is a separate museum dedicated to early air flight about a mile from the mall. I haven’t been there since I was a kid, but I am pretty sure it is (or used to be) in an old hangar. Basically the air strip was on the property that is now the mall, but the support buildings were not, so although it’s a shame that the field itself is gone, it’s not too much of a historical fudge.

    http://www.cradleofaviation.org/history/index.html

  10. Please help save this place.. I wanted it to be condos from the second I hear the town was buying it.. PLEASE anyone.. Mr Trump?? Ritz Carlton? some on.. save it…

  11. It will be a crying shame if that building is torn down. It would make a fantastic wedding and special event venue!

  12. I emailed them – it is too pretty to be knocked down… In England, that building would be listed so it could never be demolished, just sensitively updated.

    Allie (London, England)

  13. There’s more to the story. Not long after acquiring St. Paul’s in the early 1990′s the village was all set to lease it to a private company for conversion into an assisted living facility. A citizen’s group filed a lawsuit to block the lease, claiming that St. Paul’s should be used solely for public purposes. The lawsuit dragged through the courts for many years and ultimately went in favor of the citizen’s group.

    While it certainly would be better if St. Paul’s were a public facility, the point is that there are no apparent public purposes that would be sufficient to keep the main building in use and pay the bills. It would make a terrific wedding and special events venue, as a prior comment notes, however it’s unlikely the revenues would come close to covering upkeep costs.

  14. Commenter Peter is right. It’s beautiful and all but serves no purpose beyond looking nice.

    I live in Garden City and have to laugh at people who don’t (and apparently have a limited knowledge of the situation) crying about preserving St. Paul’s. There’s more in play here than “it’s such a beautiful building, corporations are evil, money is evil, blah blah blah!” Oh, and the reason you can’t get interior photos is because it’s structurally unsafe to be inside the building. I suppose you can blame the evil corporations and “soulless developers” for that too.

    Love this site, got a lot of great ideas for road trips, but this post is lacking a lot of information and history about the situation. Disrespectful to the town and it’s residents.

    “But at the very least, I was hoping for some sort of sign that the town had a respect for its history – maybe a sign or something to commemorate the events that occurred here. I biked around for about 10 minutes, but didn’t find anything.”

    Or you could have done a quick Google search rather than the extensive “10 minute” bike ride, rather than slamming a town for having no “respect for its history”. Check out commenter Erik and Garik’s takes on the Lindbergh landmarks. And don’t write about stuff you don’t know about.

    • I never claimed that my 10 minute bike ride was extensive, and I’m about to update the post with the new info. But do you disagree with my ratio of quality to generic in the town? It’s not that generic modern upscale isn’t pleasant and a pretty, and boy are all your trees nice. And I’m sure you spend hours sitting all those gazebos reading.

      But do you get the difference between irreplaceable and unremarkable?

      I’m well aware of the full history of St. Paul’s, and I chose not to get into it because it has become so mired in town politics. Sometimes you have to step back and look at the bigger issues to get a clear answer.

      • You completely changed the focus of my comment.

        “But do you disagree with my ratio of quality to generic in the town?”

        I couldn’t care less about your assessment of the architecture and homes in my town. Hence I didn’t comment on it. But if you think Garden City is unremarkable, you should check out basically every other town on Long Island. If GC is “unremarkable”, then every other town is “deplorable”.

        I care about my town getting fairly presented on this forum. And the original post failed to do that.

        “And I’m sure you spend hours sitting all those gazebos reading.”

        What? What does this have to do with anything? For the record, I spent many years working at the town pool (which is lovely, not sure if you visited) which has a gazebo, a gazebo I spent a lot of time in during my life. Maybe I wasn’t always reading, so I guess I fall short by your standards. And in my life I’ve gone to countless Christmas tree lightings, 9/11 vigils, band performances (often featuring myself as a performer), wedding photos and any other town events — all surrounding that gazebo. So in that vein, I’ll conclude the same way I ended my initial comment — don’t write about stuff you don’t know about (in this case, my life).

        • To make it a bit more clear:

          “It’s beautiful and all but serves no purpose beyond looking nice.”

          You and I disagree. We’d have probably also disagreed when the option came around in the 1960′s to demolish the decaying Grand Central in favor of an office building.

          “I live in Garden City and have to laugh at people who don’t (and apparently have a limited knowledge of the situation) crying about preserving St. Paul’s.”

          I’ve read the full history of the St. Paul’s ongoing debate. If anything, I’ve avoided getting into the details because it highlights how little drive there is in town to make any sacrifices to save St. Paul’s – that’s right, sacrifices. Paying more in taxes, actively pursuing fundraisers, government grants, landmark protection ordinances so private developers could be sought, etc., with the understanding that you are working for a greater purpose for the town you love and call home.

          “There’s more in play here than “it’s such a beautiful building, corporations are evil, money is evil, blah blah blah!” Oh, and the reason you can’t get interior photos is because it’s structurally unsafe to be inside the building. I suppose you can blame the evil corporations and “soulless developers” for that too.”

          Of course there are serious financial concerns to contend with. The same has been true with every historical property that has ever been rehabilitated. It takes sacrifice. It also takes a very gung-ho spirit to persevere.

          “Love this site, got a lot of great ideas for road trips, but this post is lacking a lot of information and history about the situation. Disrespectful to the town and it’s residents.”

          I’ll respect your town when it respects itself and its history. What I see is a majority residents who are happy to look at St. Paul’s as an ornament on a Christmas tree and nothing more – yourself admittedly included.

          “I couldn’t care less about your assessment of the architecture and homes in my town.”

          Ha, well, as this is the whole point of Scouting NY, I’d advise you to stop reading.

          • Then move to Garden City and take up the cause. If it means so much to you. Spearhead fundraising. Lead the charge to increase the already exorbitant property taxes paid by homeowners. Secure government grants.

            I suppose you don’t respect New York City for tearing down Grand Central then, huh?

            My biggest problem — there’s more nuance to the situation than you presented here. Don’t want to get into it all, because of town politics and all that? Fine — then don’t present the situation at all. Because the watered down one you’ve presented here is quite unfair. If you’re gonna broach the topic and give an opinion, at least be thorough. Your version here lets readers from London or wherever come in and cry “Save the whales!!!” over something they don’t have a clue about.

            (By the way, it doesn’t sound like it from my comments, but I’d love to see it preserved, if feasible. It’s a beautiful building. But I believe there are more important causes in my town than preserving old buildings which are uninhabitable. However, I won’t run down the list of causes/groups I’m involved with in my town because no one cares.)

  15. The property that surrounds St Paul’s has countless athletic fields that are used by Garden City. You drive by on and Saturday or Sunday during the year, and there are over a dozen games going on for the local kids: soccer, lacrosse, football, baseball. I imagine demolition would also put an end (or at least a temporary halt) to the kids using the fields. Just another reason why the demolition plan is stupid.

    One more thing – there are LOTS of homes like the Victorian ones whose pictures you put up. You should have rode around some more. Living in the area, when I think of homes in Garden City, they are the ones I think of first.

    • Hi Tom –

      I didn’t post pictures of all the Victorians I saw, just like I didn’t post a picture of every other house I saw. But having ridden on nearly every street in the town limits, I can tell you without a doubt that for every beautiful Victorian, there are about 20-30 modern upscale generic homes.

      What’s very telling about this is that when you think of Garden City, you don’t think about the modern construction. You think of the historical gems, even though they’re in the vast minority.

  16. James K., what do you propose take its place since it “serves no purpose beyond looking nice”?

  17. I’m far from an expert on building renovations and don’t know the interior layout. Even so, my reasoned guess is that converting St. Paul’s to apartments or condominiums would require an almost complete alteration of the interior. For one thing, every apartment or condominium unit has to have its own bathroom and kitchen, and almost certainly the building isn’t set up that way at all. Conversion into a hotel or health care facility might require something less in terms of interior work.

    Any of these uses ideally would allow for the exterior to remain reasonably intact. The downside is that St. Paul’s would become privately owned with little or no public access to the inside, except perhaps in the case of a hotel. One could argue that there’d be nothing worth seeing about the off-limits interior in the case of an apartment or condominium conversion. But would that satisfy the preservationists?

    Try as I might, I cannot think of any public use that would be remotely cost-effective. If St. Paul’s were smaller it might be suitable for conversion into municipal offices, but it’s much too large for that use.

  18. As mentioned, the history behind St. Paul’s is long and thorny. The truth is that the Village (through referendum, etc.) has allowed the building to rot beyond repair. Nobody is allowed in the building due to the crumbling structure and the asbestos. It’s a mess. As a village resident, I am torn–my children play on those fields and it would be nice to preserve the building for public use. Mothballing or demolition is extremely expensive. That being said, the previous private option on the table would take away from public use–and once it’s in the hands of a developer, even though the promise was to save the facade, we all know what would happen when it was deemed structurally and financially impossible–the facade would go. I haven’t voted yet, and it would be sad to see it go. But the divisiveness it has caused in town has to end.

  19. Regardless of the particular politics surrounding this particular building, I can’t bear to think of that building meeting a wrecking ball.

    I spend a lot of time in Paris, and I will never, ever tire of the stunning architecture, especially Gothic.

  20. Scout,
    It’s funny that as I sat here reading this post, I began watching The Fountainhead, starring Gary Cooper and Patricia Neal, whose tagline reads, “a study of a brilliant architect who allows no compromise in his work.” Seems to go along perfectly with this whole discussion. Keep up the good work and stay true to your own ideas and opinions! That’s what makes this site so great!
    geaj

  21. Nice “shot.” Regarding the “Island” which many New Yorkers call
    anywhere other than Brooklyn and Queens, for this New Yorker as well,
    is sterile at best. I was born in Manhattan and we had relatives
    who lived “out in the Island” and to visit was the most boring
    experience I ever had. The comments from the “pro” who knows
    so much more than you since he lives in Garden City speaks volumes.
    Personally, there’s not really much I would preserve in Garden City
    so go ahead pal and tear it down. One other comment to James K,
    I hope and pray when and if you ever get out of Garden City and
    are asked where you live, I think it appropriate that you tell them
    Garden City and not New York City. You’re “from the Island” and it
    sure as hell show. Again, nice job and I totally love your
    website.

    • BrianJMack, You’re a NYC snob who probably never even leaves the city. That’s close-minded. Long Island has a lot to offer, as do many places outside of NYC. Maybe your relatives were boring. Don’t blame an entire geographical area for your sorry state of mind.

  22. Hey -
    Great site – I’ve really enjoyed your posts, as a fellow lover of cool architecture…

    I, too, am a GC resident, tho I’ve lived here for only a few years (also a MA transplant). St. Paul’s was one of the things my wife and I drove by many times while house hunting that made us think GC still had some “character.” We always wondered what those buildings were before we moved here. To lose the structures would be an unfortunate occurrence much like the tearing down and “rebuilding” of the GC hotel/high end condos (ugh).

    To clear up a bit of confusion on James K’s part (without getting too in-depth) – the previous plan in place was to allow both public and private use of the facility – mostly condominiums, but with mandated public use for some of the building and still retaining public use of most of the land surrounding it. I think it would’ve been a nice compromise, but it was voted down by the town.

    In a perfect world, it would be great to be able to save the building and use it as public space – concerts/events/etc. The town still uses the (1960′s) gym buildings attached to it for kids and sports programs during the year.

    I think it’d be a pity for it to be torn down – hopefully we can come up with a compromise that will satisfy both sides of the issue.

    I’m not sure in this economy that GC is ready for that kind of sacrifice – given other budgetary issues that have reared their ugly heads out here on the Island…

    Thanks again for the blog – I look forward to every post!

  23. Wow James, you’re biggest complaint here is that the “whole picture” wasn’t presented about “your” town and this building yet you didn’t bother to go into any bit of detail at all about the building or it’s complicated back story yourself. You didn’t even bother to provide a link with this info. You spent an awful lot of time slamming this blog for not doing the very things you yourself did not do (and you try so hard to come across as someone who cares so much about the truth of the situation). Bottom line is that it’s a beautiful building, worth saving and the people who actually live in or are from GC (like yourself) are the ones that should give a damn enough to spearhead activities in an effort to save it! It’s a nice sentiment that you suggest Scout be the one to lead the way in efforts to save the building but really, is he supposed to do that with every building that he profiles?? By simply profiling this building (politics or not) on this blog he has done more than you have to get the word out about it. Besides, this site is not about politics and I imagine people would stop reading the postings if they became bogged down with it! Stop being such a hypocrite and lighten up!!! PS. Are you sure you aren’t a developer?????

  24. All this chatter about the relative merits of public vs. private uses presupposes that private developers are still interested in buying St. Paul’s and converting it to other uses. Given the structure’s deterioration, the requirement for asbestos abatement (hugely expensive), the fact that most of the surrounding land will remain in public use, and last but not least the condition of the economy, I’m rather doubtful that a stream of developers is beating a path to the village administrator’s office.

  25. AMAZING! Long ago I lived in GC and remember hearing the grown-ups listing all the reasons the GC Hotel should be torn down (rotting from within, ‘beyond repair’, rat-infested, etc, etc). Then after the developers got their way and the building was obliterated – the empty hole sat undeveloped for years and Garden City-ites beat their breasts about what a mistake it was not to save the building. Now, the edifice that sat atop the now-gone building (not sure what the correct term for it is) has become the ‘logo’ of the town.

    I guess all the original residents who remember the old hotel enough to mourn its passing are dead now and the new generation in charge either are too young to remember or are not long-time residents with any sort of historical memory to get in their way. It’s like black comedy though – to see the town slowly demolishing its grand architectural heritage.

    As each iconic GC building is destroyed, they can join the tower from the GC Hotel as logos for the city.

  26. Sorry if i’ve missed it–is there somewhere to donate? the link to the interior photos looks like a preservation group, but their site hasn’t been updated since 2006…

  27. man, you knocked this out of the park

  28. Speaking as a lover of all things historic, I wholeheartedly agree that this building should be preserved. However, as a person with close ties to both politics and real estate development, I can say that preservation of historic buildings is much easier said than done. On the politics end of things, the biggest issue is money… where is the local municipality going to source the funds to maintain and repurpose such a grand structure? You guessed it, the tax payers, and not all tax payers would be as willing to cough up the money as ScoutingNY readers. On the development end of things, it is often cheaper to demolish old buildings and build new buildings than it is to bring old buildings up to current codes, and if a building doesn’t meet code, it sits empty. Whenever these situations arise, developers are called “greedy”, however, if there isn’t a profit to be made then the project isn’t undertaken and the building will either be repurposed at the tax payer’s expense or will continue to sit vacant at the tax payer’s expense. Either way, you will be paying for this building… either through increased taxes or decreased aesthetics.

  29. It should be noted that the residents of the village were faced with the “3 choice” non-binding vote because AvalonBay (a developer) who wanted to develop the property when the residents purchased the property many years ago community use. The residents wanted a vote of AvalonBay yes or no but those in local government who supported the developer wanted to muddy the waters because they knew the residents of GC wanted to send AvalonBay packing! The developer was about to ink a deal that would have made them millions and left the residents of GC to pay for it with IDA Tax Credits and population density. The community got together to drive out the developer. The community DOES want to save the building and a group called the Committee To Save St Paul’s (CSSP) and the GC Historical Society have teamed up and made a proposal that is not being vetted by the village administration. The alumni of the St Paul’s/St Mary’s School also want to help defray costs. The costs are what holds everyone back. This issue has been a lighting rod issue for all residents of our town, greed is what has held back the process of restoration for village use, luckily there are new people on our village board who have a conscience, are truly altruistic and care about the historical significance of this building.

    It should be noted that although the address for Roosevelt Field Mall is “Garden City” they are in the town of Uniondale and GC does not receive any tax revenues from the mall. They use the name GC because it is a more “upscale” town and they profit from that but GC gets nothing from Roosevelt Field….except traffic! (Also – two of you photos – the “high ranch” houses and the modern house with the droopy tree in the front yard are not in Garden City.)

  30. To clear up some confusion, the Cradle of Aviation museum is in a former hangar at what used to be Mitchel Field airport. Roosevelt Field airport was just a short distance from Mitchel Field but was completely separate. If you look at a satellite view of the Mitchel Field site in Google Maps, there are some traces of a runway still remaining, plus of course the museum hangar. No physical traces of Roosevelt Field airport are still left.

  31. Great building indeed…and while I would love to see it saved, I also can understand the financial reality of what it would take. Right now, that kind of money is hard to come by, sad as it is.

    Peter, I have never been out to Roosevelt Field mall, I am here on google maps trying to find evidence of the Mitchell Field runway and hanger, just not sure what I am looking for from above. Care to assist with objects to point me in the right direction?

    Scout, love the site as always, and Peter, thanks!

    Sedge

  32. Ok, check that, I do now see the hacksaw shaped runway segments. glad to see those nearby parking lots have not encroached on the runway itself!

    Sedge

  33. Scout, I’m glad you enjoyed your trip around Garden City. It is a very lovely town.
    One comment on your piece: I don’t think you can discount the importance of the history of the debate, as the seeds of the current problem lie therein.
    Another commenter suggested that the interior of the building be renovated for condos while keeping the exterior preserved. In 1997 the Village considered doing something similar by allowing a developer of assisted living facility for the elderly to do essentially that. However, several residents sued and after a lengthy court battle the courts ruled that because of the way the building and land were purchased they could only be used for “public purposes”. The only way to get around the ruling would be for the New York State Legislature to specifically lift the restriction on the parcel.
    Since that time, the Village has considered other “public” uses such as for a high school, moving the library or moving the Village Hall there. Each time it has decided the costs would be too high. However, the Committee to Save St. Paul’s feels that the public options have not been fully explored.
    There’s a lot more history, but that’s some background that explains why we are where we are. Anyone who would like to read more is welcome to dig around in our archives at http://www.gcnews.com

    Meg Norris
    Editor and Publisher
    The Garden City News

    Oh yeah – one more comment: Roosevelt Field isn’t in the Village of Garden City (nor the school district). It shares the same zip code, but is actually in East Garden City (which also contains a lot of ugly commercial and industrial development).

  34. As a resident of Garden City its nice to see other people recognize not only the beauty of St. Pauls but the historical significance of the building. Many people don’t know this, but Garden City was the first planned community in America. The entire Hempstead plains were purchased by AJ Stewart to serve as a weekend-horse racing get-a-way for wealthy NYC’ers. Hence the Belmont Stakes that take place right down the road. The town contains many horse racing motifs if you look closely. The school was one of the first institutions to move in.

    The fact remains, the building has reached a point where it is un-usable. The inside is wood. Water damage has made most of the building too dangerous to even enter. The town CAN NOT AFFORD to save the building. Residents already crushed by high Nassau County taxes won’t foot the bill. Hence, privatizing it. Residents didn’t want that either….. So now what does the town do?

    The surrounding land the building sites on, St. Pauls’ Field, is one of the largest undeveloped areas in Nassau county. This will definitely be preserved. The town really need to put something there that serves the town – - but they can’t afford to do so.

    Quite a problem. As a resident, I did vote for demolition. Sadly, the only other option is to let it sit and rot, or have someone pay for rehabilitation.

  35. Scout, My what an interesting can of worms you opened up. I am not much of a Victorian Gothic kind of guy but I can see the merits of this building. Perhaps the reason you can’t get inside is because the city has allowed the interior to decay. I am sure if we saw some of those images that would be a bigger can. Don’t scouts lead the way thru difficult and dangerous terrain? This may be one of those instances.

    Have you been out to Floyd Bennett Field? I would like to see your take on this other famous airfield. It still is used by aircraft restoration organizations.

  36. Scout, the buzz you are creating surrounding St. Pauls is fantastic and I am personally grateful. You have been able to stir things up and make people take notice of this gem we may lose.

    I am however disappointed that the efforts of Garden City to SAVE St. Pauls was unfairly represented. The clock is ticking and rather than rehash what’s been said I’d like to provide some information so we, as a whole, can take a proactive stance.

    To learn more about the efforts being made visit savestpauls.org or gcnews.com

    To make a donation please mail it to: Committee to Save St. Paul’s P.O. Box 7642 Garden City, NY 11530-0731

    As Scout already noted, you can also make a difference by writing to mayor@gardencity.net

    “He has the right to criticize who has the heart to help.” ~Abraham Lincoln

  37. Scout, great article but you missed the best thing about Garden City. If you go south down franklin (or any north-south street), you get to cross the invisible line between Garden City and Hempstead. I lived in Hempstead for a long time, and it is a slum a world away from its affluent next door neighbor. You can literally cross a street, and the road goes from idyllic suburb to rundown urban sprawl. North is million+ dollar houses, south is used car dealerships, bodegas, and old, overcrowded houses. Just something to check out the next time you visit the area.

  38. I’ve lived in some really great old buildings that were converted into apartments or condos. The character, the history, the ability to say I live in that old building, you know, the on with the really cool decorative etc.s?

    I would so live in the prep school. Can you imagine those floors and the heavy wood doors? So much of modern architecture is plywood and poorly made materials. Who wouldn’t want to live in a historic building where the structure is probably better made than a new home?

    Sorry, it just bugs me so much when some town council tears something down to throw up some ugly “modern” monstrosity. Our town is big on that. College town so we’ve got these new apartment complexes popping up all over. From what I’ve heard the walls are thin, the carpets pill immediately. Some of these new complexes aren’t even finished so we’ve got ugly half built shells or skeletons of ugly buildings littering our otherwise pretty little town.

    It’s such a shame.

  39. hey – I graduated St Pauls in 1988. would hate to see it get teared down not so much because I went to school there but its been such a major staple of the town. My parents still live in GC and think St paul’s grounds gives a unique character to the town. GC has been able to maintain the town over the last few decades and not succumb to the downfall of other near by towns but seems the people managing the town are slowly letting the town go down the drains by letting the developers rule the landscape – its too bad

  40. Just making sure you’re aware, Scout, of a grassroots Garden City group that’s growing on Facebook and Twitter thanks to your coverage of this travesty:

    http://twitter.com/StPaulsGC
    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=109169932478222

  41. Scout – great blog and fantastic pictures. I am originally from Dutchess County. My stepmother grew up in Garden City, so as a kid I spent a lot of my weekends and vacation time there visiting my “grandmother”. It was and still is a great place. Long Island was always a great trip from upstate. There are so many beautiful old buildings and homes there. One has to seriously consider, however, the cost of renovating vs. demolition and who is going to come up with the funds. If the building is structurally unsafe, would it cost more to repair and renovate it than to tear it down and rebuild a historically accurate representation for commercial, residential or mixed-use? Would it be possible to salvage the architectural details/items and use them in a new structure on the same grounds? It sounds like it’s a very complex problem, and becoming more common as our precious historical buildings and homes succomb to advanced age and the elements of the NorthEast.

  42. Thank you Steven for mentioning GC’s status as the first planned community. I took offense at Scout’s pictures of what you portray as typical homes. The majority of the town’s housing stock is easily 60+ years or older. Along with the collection of Victorian’s in town; there are numerous Dutch Colonials, Tudors, Georgian, Normandy style homes. In addition, there are plenty of simple 1950′s cape’s & center hall’s as well.

    The fact remains, a wonderful piece of architecture will be destroyed. Sadly, this is a story that will be repeated a hundred times over across our country. Outside of major cities there is a different attitude altogether regarding old buildings.

    As a taxpayer, it continues to sicken me that elected officials time and time again get away with neglecting facilities and the tax payer gets stuck holding the bag. As evil as some people feel the developers/private sector may be; the fate of St. Paul’s could have been quite different.

  43. I couldn’t agree more with this article. It is deplorable that residents would vote to demolish the one building in this town that is not only historical but contains many memories for families who watched their children grow up on the soccer and lacrosse fields behind this abandoned school. The problem that lies here is that in a small town where money and social status define your reputation, many inhabitants are likely hoping for the building to be reconstructed into a strip mall where they can gather for drinks and show off their latest car or designer bag. Scout was dead on when he portrayed Garden City as being generic. It is a town full of proud Stepford wives and if God forbid you try to be unique, get the hell out.

  44. http://maps.google.fr/maps?q=age+batiments+rue+de+la+r%C3%A9publique+lyon&ie=UTF8&hl=fr&hq=age+batiments+rue&hnear=Avenue+de+la+R%C3%A9publique,+69009+Lyon,+Rh%C3%B4ne,+Rh%C3%B4ne-Alpes&ll=45.759743,4.835858&spn=0,0.110378&z=13&iwloc=12733482413809323342&layer=c&cbll=45.760218,4.835621&panoid=V5zwW5S3KJhE-UvLEHCjrA&cbp=12,7.8,,0,1.64

    This is the place I lived in my whole life.

    Different countries, I agree, but still, the buildings are about the same age as St Paul’s (some of them are way older). All these buildings were preserved as a part of the city.

    The buildings you can see here are all condos with shops at the street level. Some buildings looking more like saint paul’s have been turned into hospitals, operas, museums, city offices etc …

    Of course letting the building here just to look nice is not a viable option. But turning it into a condo or something useful for the city is possible.

    In my city we keep these buildings outsides and the floors, moldings, inner stairs and so on. This doesn’t prevent from having the modern comfort and security. Of course it costs more than just building another building.
    But trust me: turn it into a condo and people will come and live in it.

    Turn it into a museum of arts or history and in some years it will earn money.

    You can’t hide behind the fact that there is nothing to do with it. The whole center of many european cities is made with building like these.

    The building turned into an hospital:
    http://maps.google.fr/maps?q=age+batiments+rue&ie=UTF8&hl=fr&sll=45.759178,4.840038&sspn=0.000728,0.001725&split=1&rq=1&ev=p&radius=0.05&hq=age+batiments+rue&hnear=&ll=45.758996,4.840894&spn=0,0.001725&z=19&layer=c&cbll=45.758886,4.840884&panoid=oIKZgv50TIvz8XofUSpy3g&cbp=12,261.6,,1,3.76

  45. I lived there from ages 11-18. GC is a nice place to look at mostly, but don’t try to get to know any of the people, they suck. Some of the architecture is really amazing, though. I’m about to hopefully embark on a piece about the house depicted in your shot 005, which is an exquisite house with an incredible story. The house in shot 001, the GC Historical Society, was actually picked up and moved across town while I was living there. I still have photos of the move somewhere. You’re right about the hotel. The McKim, Mead & White building was destroyed by a fire, which is why it was rebuilt. One of the restaurants in town has a beautiful painted mural of it. How that monstrosity replaced it I have no idea. The loss of St. Paul’s would be equally as tragic. Roosevelt field, would you believe, was designed by I. M. Pei?

  46. I know I’m not being realistic, but I wish it could be used in a similar fashion to Eastern State Penitentiary in PA. It’s an awesome building that is maintained in a state of arrested decay. You can see more about it here: http://www.easternstate.org/ Gosh, I would just love to live near something as cool as a building that is allowed to be taken back by the earth while still making it a tourist attraction.

  47. I live in GC..

    1) the 6th, 7th and 8th house pictures you posted are not GC.

    2) the “other commercial area on the edge of town” is not GC.

    3) St. Paul’s is not in great shape.. at all.

    Please have your facts right before you start writing about my town.

  48. Please save St. Paul’s! This is such a beautiful, historical building. We have to save our old buildings! Long Island needs something beautiful.

  49. I am wondering about the status of St. Paul’s. My husband went to school there in the 1940s. Is it still standing? I am searching the internet for information and can find nothing about it, but older posts. I’d like to visit it this fall.

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