C. B. J. Snyder

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Snyder in his office, c.1900

Charles B. J. Snyder (November 4, 1860 – November 14, 1945) was an American architect, architectural engineer, and mechanical engineer in the field of urban school building design and construction. He is widely recognized[1] for his leadership, innovation, and transformation of school building construction process, design, and quality during his tenure as Superintendent of School Buildings for the New York City Board of Education between 1891 and 1923.

Background[edit]

Snyder was born November 4, 1860, in Stillwater, New York. He was the middle of three children born to George I. Snyder (1834-?) (harness maker) and Charity Ann Snyder (née Shonts) (1834–1919).[2] His two siblings, both sisters, were Ella G. Snyder (1857–1876) and Katy Snyder (b. approx 1865).

He completed public schooling in Stillwater, New York. In 1879, he arrived in New York City, and worked four years with builders in preparation for his profession. In 1883, he began the practice of architecture.[3]

Snyder earned two credentials from Cooper Union technical schools: Cooper Union Free Night School of Science, Class C — Third-Year: May 28, 1881 — Certificate, Practical Geometry (name of record: "Charles Snyder").;[4] and Cooper Union School of Art, May 28, 1884 — Certificate, Elementary Architectural Drawing (name of record: "Chas. B.J. Snyder").[5]

From the mid to later 1880s, Snyder worked with William E. Bishop, a New York City master carpenter. Little is known about Bishop.[6] Beginning more than a decade before Snyder's birth, Bishop maintained a lifelong hobby as a volunteer fireman and held a positions of leadership in various firemen companies.[7]

Superintendent of School Buildings[edit]

At its last meeting of the school year, July 8, 1891, the New York City Board of Education elected Snyder as Superintendent of Buildings, to succeed George W. Debevoise, who had resigned. Of the thirteen votes cast, Snyder received twelve.[8] It's not clear how Snyder won the support, but he may have had a connection with the banker Robert Maclay, head of the Board of Education's Building Committee. Snyder named his younger son "Robert Maclay". From the time of his appointment until the consolidation of the City of Greater New York in 1898, Snyder oversaw Manhattan and The Bronx.

On January 1, 1898, The City of New York consolidated with the City of Brooklyn, the County of New York (which then included parts of The Bronx), the County of Richmond, and the western portion of the County of Queens.[9] After the consolidation, Snyder retained his position as Superintendent of School Buildings for the NYC BoE.

School design innovations[edit]

Snyder saw school buildings as civic monuments for a better society. He was concerned with health and safety issues in public schools and focused on fire protection, ventilation, lighting, and classroom size. Snyder used terra cotta blocks in floor construction to improve fireproofing, and large and numerous windows to allow more light and air into the classrooms.[10] He also developed new methods for mechanical air circulation in school buildings.[11] The problem of school design in New York was compounded by the relatively constricted sites which were necessitated by the high cost of land acquisition.

  • The H-plan design was first implemented by Snyder on a school (PS 165) in 1898 and was inspired by the Hotel de Cluny in Paris which Snyder had seen in 1896.[12][13][14]

In 1896 Snyder began designing his first "H-plan," which provided two side courts. Snyder's H-plan improved the overall environmental quality by, among other things, allowing generous light and fresh air into classrooms. And, it featured a grand courtyard entrance.[6] It also provided areas between the wings that were safe for recreation.

  • The use of steel skeleton framing for buildings over four stories allowed for cheaper and faster construction as well as an increased span of window openings.
  • Because of the need to produce many buildings in a short time, Snyder's office improved the design and planning ideas of earlier schools and sometimes used the same basic design for several schools.[15]
  • Snyder reorganized the Deputy Superintendents so that each was responsible for a single part of the building — such as (i) design and planning, (ii) heating and ventilating, (iii) electricity, (iv) plumbing and drainage, (v) furniture, and (vi) inspection and records — and each reported directly to him.[10]

Retirement[edit]

In 1922, Snyder began openly exploring retirement. He said that he hadn't had a vacation in 18 years and was tired and completely worn-out and that it was time to go fishing.[16] On July 1, 1923, Snyder officially retired.

Notable architectural structures[edit]

Note: Schools are listed by their original designation.

As Superintendent, Snyder is credited with the design of over 400 structural projects — including more than 140 elementary schools.[17] Snyder worked in several styles, including Beaux Arts, English Collegiate Gothic, Jacobean, and Dutch Colonial. He preferred mid-block locations away from busy and polluted avenues. One of his signature motifs was to design spaces for learning that would offer a respite from noisy streets and poverty.[18]

PS 27, The Bronx
Postcard featuring the 15th Street facade of Snyder's Stuyvesant High School building
Original blueprint of Erasmus Hall at the Williamsburg Art & Historical Center
Haaren Hall in 2008
Newtown High School

Elementary schools[edit]

The Bronx

  • Public School 17; now City Island Museum (190 Fordham St., E. of City Island Ave.)[19]
  • PS 27 (519 St. Ann's Ave., btwn. 147th & 148th Sts.) NYC Landmark[20]
  • PS 28 (1861 Anthony Avenue, btwn Mt Hope Place and East Tremont Avenue) - a.k.a. The Mount Hope School, a plaque at the entrance verifies that Snyder was the architect, designing it in 1896-7, but the numeric designation on the plaque is altered
  • PS 31 (425 Grand Concourse at Walton Ave.) NYC Landmark[21]
  • PS 32 in Little Italy area, 183rd and Beaumont- a beautiful red-brick, terra-cotta & gargoyle redstone Gothic structure

Brooklyn

  • PS 157, 850 Kent Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11205
  • PS 133, 375 Butler St, Brooklyn 11217
  • PS 132,[22] 320 Manhattan Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11211

Manhattan

  • PS 1, Alfred E. Smith School (8 Henry Street); this building featured what some believe was the world's first rooftop playground[23]
  • PS 9,[24] now PS 811 (466 West End Avenue at 82nd St.)
  • PS 23 (70 Mulberry St., Chinatown), now a community center that houses, among other things, the Chen Dance Center.
  • PS 42 (71 Hester St., Chinatown)
  • PS 61 (610 E 12th St. 10009)
  • PS 64 (605 E 9th St., Alphabet City) NYC Landmark[25]
  • PS 67 (120 W 46th St., btwn 6th & 7th Aves.), later HS of Performing Arts; later Liberty HS, currently Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis High School NYC Landmark[26]
  • PS 90 (228 W 148th St. and 225 W 147th St., Central Harlem), built in 1905, the building had been abandoned for several decades, but artistic graffiti transformed the fence and walls into a shrine honoring several deceased renowned African Americans. On April 4, 2008, the City deeded the property to "West 147th Associates LLC," a condominium entity created in 2004 by the developer. With little fanfare, the developer, L+M Development Partners Inc., commenced construction of mixed-income condominiums; the aim is to refurbish the original facade and keep the "H pattern" design intact. The building is now addressed 217 W 147th St.
  • PS 95 (Clarkson St., South Village), now HS 560 City-as-School
  • PS 109 (225 East 99th St, East Harlem), currently vacant, National Register[27]
  • PS 110 (285 Delancey St., Lower East Side)
  • PS 150; later Hunter College Model School; later Machine & Metal Trades HS; currently Life Sciences Secondary School (E 96th St.)
  • PS 160 (107 Suffolk St., SWC or Rivington St.), now home to Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural and Educational Center
  • PS 157 (327 St. Nicholas Ave.), apartments since 1990, about to convert into a co-op National Register[28]
  • PS 165 (234 West 109th St.), now housing selective middle school Mott Hall II (serving 6th-8th grades)[29] in addition to the Robert E. Simon School (also called P.S. 165), which is a pre-K through 8 school.[30]
  • PS 166 (132 W 89th St.) NYC Landmark[31]
  • PS 168 (317 E 104th St.), now a community health facility
  • PS 186 (521 W 145th St., Hamilton Heights, Harlem, 1/2 block E of Sugar Hill), in 1975 this structure was so run down that parents held protests and the city opened a new school across the street. The Convent Avenue Baptist Church bought it January 1986 with the intention of creating a new space for its M.L. Wilson Boys' Club (current name: Boys & Girls Club of Harlem, Inc.).[32] The mortgage was satisfied February 2006.[33] But, as of 2008, no improvement have been made and the building is still vacant.[34] The contract between the New York County Local Development Corporation and the M.L. Wilson Boys Club required that significant development be completed on the property within three years of the contract date.[35]

Queens

Staten Island

  • PS 28; Richmondtown Historical Society (276 Center St., Richmondtown) NYC Landmark[37]

High schools[edit]

The Bronx

  • Morris High School (1110 Boston Rd.) NYC Landmark[38]

Brooklyn

Manhattan

Queens

Staten Island

Structural additions[edit]

Brooklyn

Manhattan

  • PS 72, later PS 107, now Burgos Cultural Center (1674 Lexington Ave.), (Stagg, Architect 1879-82; annex, Snyder, 1911–13). NYC Landmark[49]

Staten Island

Demolished structures[edit]

The Bronx

  • 24th Ward School; later Evander Childs High School Annex; later Resthaven Nursing Home (225 E. 234th St., bet. Kepler and Katonah Aves.)

Manhattan

Professional affiliations[edit]

Snyder joined the American Society of Heating and Ventilating Engineers in 1895, served on its Board of Governors from 1900 to 1904, and was elected President in 1907.[50] He joined the American Institute of Architects in 1901 and was elevated to Fellow in 1905.[51]

Family and personal life[edit]

There is no known record indicating what his two middle initials stand for.

Snyder married Harriet Katharine (or Katherine) de Vries on September 11, 1889, at the home of the bride's parents in Jersey City Heights.[52][53] (b. Nov. 30, 1862 - d. May 25, 1927, Brooklyn). They had two sons, Howard Halsey Snyder (b. Oct. 15, 1890, New Rochelle - d. Mar. 1970, Babylon, NY) and Robert Maclay Snyder (b. September 6, 1894, New Rochelle - d. 1945).

Snyder was a member of the Kane Lodge No. 454, Free and Accepted Masons (New York City); the Jerusalem Chapter, No. 8, Royal Arch Masons (New York City),;[3] Order of Harugari, Martha Lodge No. 1,830 of Union Hill, New Jersey;[54] and the Royal Arcanum Huguenot Council, No. 397 (New Rochelle).[55]

Snyder died November 14, 1945, with his son, Robert, when they were overcome with natural gas poisoning, or carbon monoxide, or both, in their cottage in Babylon, New York. Apparently, upon retiring for the evening, the Snyders had lit the burners on the range oven to heat the rooms; but during the night the flame had been extinguished, possibly by a draft.[50] The elder Snyder was 85, the son was 51. They both are buried in a family plot, in unmarked graves at Woodlawn Cemetery, The Bronx.

Publications and presentations[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes

  1. ^ a b "Designation List 280, (Former) Stuyvesant High School" (PDF). New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. May 20, 1997. Retrieved April 20, 2008. 
  2. ^ 1870 US Federal Census, Saratoga Springs, New York
  3. ^ a b Van Pelt, Daniel (c. 1898). Leslie's History of the Greater New York III. Arkell Publishing Company. p. 543. 
  4. ^ The Twenty-Second Annual Report of the Trustees of the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. Archives, Cooper Union Library (New York: M. Lowry & Co. Stationers and Printers). May 28, 1881. 
  5. ^ The Twenty-Fifth Annual Report of the Trustees of the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. Archives, Cooper Union Library (New York: Trow's Printing and Bookbinding Co.). May 28, 1884. 
  6. ^ a b Gray, Christopher (November 21, 1999). "Streetscapes/Charles B. J. Snyder; Architect Who Taught a Lesson in School Design". The New York Times. Retrieved March 17, 2008. 
  7. ^ Kernan, J. Frank "Florry" (1885). Reminiscences of the Old Fire Laddies and Volunteer Fire Departments of New York and Brooklyn. Michael Crane. 
  8. ^ "C.B.J. Snyder Chosen Superintendent of School Buildings". The New York Times. July 9, 1891. 
  9. ^ "The 100 Year Anniversary of the Consolidation of the 5 Boroughs into New York City". New York City. Archived from the original on October 11, 2007. Retrieved June 29, 2007. 
  10. ^ a b Snyder, C.B.J. (1905). W.H. Roberts, ed. Proceedings of the Municipal Engineers of the City of New York, 1904. Municipal Engineers of the City of New York. 
  11. ^ "Designation List 377, PS 64" (PDF). New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. June 20, 2006. Retrieved April 20, 2008. 
  12. ^ Traveling with his wife, Snyder returned, departing from Southampton, England, arriving in New York November 28, 1896, aboard the St. Paul, New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957.
  13. ^ The BOE granted Snyder a six-week vacation with full pay. Journal of the Board of Education , 1069 (1899).
  14. ^ Gray, Christopher (November 21, 1999). "Streetscapes/Charles B. J. Snyder; Architect Who Taught a Lesson in School Design". The New York Times. 
  15. ^ "Designation List 348, Erasmus Hall High School (pg 5)" (PDF). New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. June 24, 2003. Retrieved April 20, 2008. 
  16. ^ "Supt. Snyder Asks to Quit School Job". The New York Times. May 4, 1922. 
  17. ^ "Designation List 377, (Former) Public School 64, pg.5" (PDF). New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. Retrieved April 20, 2008. 
  18. ^ Roane, Kit R. (September 14, 1999). "These Grand Old Schools Nurtured a City; Some Say It Is Time To Tear Them Down". The New York Times. 
  19. ^ "National Register of Historic Places - NEW YORK (NY), Bronx County". January 26, 2006. Retrieved April 20, 2008. 
  20. ^ "Designation List 266, Public School 27" (PDF). New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. January 19, 1995. 
  21. ^ "Designation List 185, Public School 31" (PDF). New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. July 15, 1986. 
  22. ^ Official Website of PS 132
  23. ^ Playground on a Roof, The Repository, Sept 15, 1896, pg. 12, Canton, Ohio
  24. ^ "Grammar School No. 9 Designation Report". New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. Retrieved 25 January 2014. 
  25. ^ "Designation List 377, (Former) Public School 64" (PDF). New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. Retrieved April 20, 2008. 
  26. ^ "Designation List 162, High School of the Performing Arts" (PDF). New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. December 21, 1982. Retrieved April 20, 2008. 
  27. ^ "National Register of Historic Places - NEW YORK (NY), New York County". January 26, 2006. Retrieved April 20, 2008. 
  28. ^ "National Register of Historic Places - NEW YORK (NY), New York County". January 26, 2006. Retrieved April 20, 2008. 
  29. ^ Mott Hall II - Homepage
  30. ^ http://psms165.org/
  31. ^ "Designation List 316, (Former) Public School 166" (PDF). New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. Retrieved June 27, 2000. 
  32. ^ "Recommendations" (PDF). Community Board 9 Manhattan 197-a Plan. September 24, 2007. Retrieved September 2, 2008. 
  33. ^ New York County Deed Records viewable online via ACRIS
  34. ^ Fertig, Beth (June 17, 2005). "Teens Want to Give Harlem School a New Life". WNYC.com. Retrieved September 2, 2008. 
  35. ^ Foster, Mariko (April 27, 2004). "Public School 186: Conflicting Visions". New York: Columbia Daily Spectator. Retrieved September 2, 2008. [dead link]
  36. ^ "National Register of Historic Places - NEW YORK (NY), Queens County". January 26, 2006. Retrieved April 20, 2008. 
  37. ^ "Designation List 297, Public School 28" (PDF). New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. September 15, 1998. Retrieved April 20, 2008. 
  38. ^ "Designation List 162, Morris High School" (PDF). New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. December 21, 1982. Retrieved April 20, 2008. 
  39. ^ "Designation List 348, Erasmus Hall High School" (PDF). New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. June 24, 2003. Retrieved April 20, 2008. 
  40. ^ "Proposed Historic District Extension study". Gramercy Neighborhood Associates, Inc. August 31, 1998. Retrieved March 1, 2010. 
  41. ^ Liu, Nina (August 29, 2007). "Washington Irving High School". Gramercy Area Historic Preservation Study. Gramercy Neighborhood Associates. Retrieved July 21, 2009. 
  42. ^ Nash, Eric P. (December 16, 2001). "F.Y.I". The New York Times. Retrieved September 2, 2008. 
  43. ^ "To Open De Witt Clinton High School Bids" (PDF). The New York Times. May 10, 1903. Retrieved September 2, 2008. 
  44. ^ "Designation List 260, Wadleigh High School for Girls/ (now) Wadleigh School" (PDF). New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. July 26, 1994. Retrieved April 20, 2008. 
  45. ^ "Designation List 348, Newtown High School" (PDF). New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. June 24, 2003. Retrieved April 20, 2008. 
  46. ^ "Designation List 231, Flushing High School" (PDF). New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. January 8, 1991. Retrieved April 20, 2008. 
  47. ^ "National Register of Historic Places - NEW YORK (NY), Queens County". January 26, 2006. Retrieved April 20, 2008. 
  48. ^ "Designation List 160, Curtis High School" (PDF). New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. October 12, 1982. Retrieved April 20, 2008. 
  49. ^ "Designation List 273, Public School 72" (PDF). New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. June 25, 1996. Retrieved April 20, 2008. 
  50. ^ a b "Past President C. B. J. Snyder Dies in Babylon, L.I". Heating, Piping & Air Conditioning. December 1945. 
  51. ^ American Institute of Architects Archives, Membership Files.
  52. ^ "Snyder – De Vries". The New York Times. September 12, 1889. 
  53. ^ Marriage Return, State of New Jersey, Hudson County
  54. ^ "Order of Harugari", The Evening Journal November 20, 1897; p. 9, col. 3
  55. ^ "Royal Arcanum". Retrieved August 5, 2008. 

Further reading

External links[edit]