This huge old schoolhouse was once PS 52. The building was designed in a modified Italianate style by James W. Naughton, the Superintendent of Buildings for the Board of Education of the City of Brooklyn. It served as an arts-intensive elementary school until 1945, when it was sold for use as a manufacturing space.
Cut to 1996, when a twenty-something artist found it listed as a rental in the Village Voice. The building was decrepit and overrun with debris, and it took the artist and her friends five months to get it into a functional shape. When they started living in the refurbished Schoolhouse they called themselves ORT, the German word for “site” or “place” which they decided was also an acronym for “organizing resources together.” In 2002 the second floor opened, ushering in the second wave of the collective.
The artists currently living in the Schoolhouse (there are about twenty spread over three floors) consider themselves the third wave of the collective. They run the gamut of creative pursuits, including photography and visual arts, musicians and DJs, fashion design, jewelry making, screen printing, and even mobile art.
** article adapted with permission from this piece on Brooklyn Spaces.
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