234 W 109th Street (P.S. 165)
Style: French Renaissance Revival
Architect: C.B.J. Snyder
Structure: Steel frame
Wish List: Current Wish List
This French Renaissance Revival-style public school building represents one of the finest and most intact works of C.B.J. Snyder, who served as Superintendent of School Buildings from 1891 to 1923. P.S. 165 is the prototype for Snyder’s signature “H” plan for public schools. The innovative arrangement of classrooms around courtyards and steel-frame construction allowed for enormous windows, creating light- and air-filled learning environments. Health and safety in school architecture were growing concerns, reflecting the expansion of the city’s educational system as a result of the influx of immigrants in the late 19th century. Snyder’s design, which took optimum advantage of less expensive midblock sites such as this one, was replicated throughout the city. Today, only a handful of examples of this important building type remain.
In 1936, the school was named after Robert E. Simon, a philanthropist and real-estate operator who owned Carnegie Hall. P.S. 165 is better known by its students and nearby residents as “The Palace School.”
In 2000, students from another H-shaped, Snyder-designed school – P.S. 166 on West 89th Street – joined LW! to testify before the LPC for the landmark designation of their school. It passed! We look forward to the day when students of the equally worthy P.S. 165 will have the opportunity to testify on landmark status for their school.