Girls' High School

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Girls High School building on Nostrand Avenue

Girls High School is a historically and architecturally notable public secondary school building located at 475 Nostrand Avenue in the Bedford–Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York City. It was built in 1886.[1][2]


The building was designed by James W. Naughton, Superintendent of Buildings for the Board of Education of the City of Brooklyn.[2] It is regarded as a "masterpiece" of Victorian Gothic style, blending Gothic Revival and French Second Empire styles, the Second Empire influence is visible in the mansard roof, the Gothic influence in the pointed arch windows.[2][3] The building, which was intended to house the boys and girls high schools in two separate wings, features two pavilions built around a central entrance that rises into a bell tower.[2][4]

By the time the school opened, enrollment had increased to the point where it was decided to use this building for the girls and build a separate Boys High School.[2] In 1975 the school merged with Brooklyn Boys High School and moved to a new building at Fulton Street and Utica Avenue as the Boys and Girls High School.[5]

The building is a designated New York City landmark.[6]


According to the New York Times, in 1895, it was "the ambition of every Brooklyn girl... to enter the Girls High School where she may enjoy the advantages of an advanced education and be prepared for college."[7] The girls were offered courses in Latin, Greek, German, French, botany, zoology, physics, chemistry, astronomy, physiology, psychology, algebra, geometry, calculus; ancient, medieval and modern history; economics, and classes in the "literary masterpieces, both American and English."[7] The article featured a large, detailed drawing of the building which was described as being "one of the finest, from an architectural point of view, in the country, and it is said not to be excelled for completeness of appointments anywhere.[7] the Mayor called it "the foremost institution of its kind in the world," and the Times asserted that "representatives of secondary schools in other cities of this country and in Europe... concurred" with the Mayor in that opinion.[7]

Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, who entered in the fall of 1939, remembered that students came to Girls' High from all parts of Brooklyn because the school was so "highly regarded." In her time, the school was "all girls, about half of them were white, but the neighborhood by now was nearly all black."[8] Lena Horne attended the "integrated" and "highly prestigious" high school a few years before Chisholm.[9]

Notable alumnae[edit]


  1. ^ Brooklyn: a soup-to-nuts guide, Ellen Freudenheim, Macmillan, 1999, p. 31.
  2. ^ a b c d e "19th Century," NYC Department of Education.
  3. ^ "Walkabout with Montrose: Master of Schools, JW Naughton," Archived 2009-09-11 at the Wayback Machine September 8, 2009, Brownstoner.
  4. ^ "Brooklyn: a state of mind," Michael W. Robbins, Wendy Palitz, Workman Publishing, 2001, p. 228.
  5. ^ "Boys High School And Historic Dock Made Landmarks; Boys High And a Dock Are Cited, Joseph P. Fried,October 5, 1975, New York Times.
  6. ^ New York Architecture Images – James W. Naughton
  7. ^ a b c d "A Model High School; Fame of the One for Brooklyn Girls Widespread. High Honors for its Graduates: The Building Carefully Equipped — Instructors of Large Experience — A Handsome Assembly Hall", April 7, 1895, New York Times
  8. ^ Unbought and Unbossed: Expanded 40th Anniversary Edition, Shirley Chisholm, Take Root Media, 2010, p. 38.
  9. ^ Stormy weather: the life of Lena Horne,James Gavin, Simon and Schuster, 2009, p. 24.
  10. ^ Gwendolyn Bennett, Pennsylvania Center for the Book. Accessed January 3, 2022. "She attended Brooklyn Girls' High in New York, and she later studied fine arts at Columbia University and Pratt Institute."
  11. ^ Shirley A. Chisholm Center for Equity Studies, Empire State College. Accessed January 3, 2022. "1942: Graduates from Girls' High School in Brooklyn, NY"
  12. ^ "Obituary: Shirley Zussman", Dignity Memorial. Accessed January 3, 2022. "Her family soon moved to Brooklyn where Shirley lived until graduating high school at Girl’s High."

Coordinates: 40°40′53″N 73°56′59″W / 40.6815°N 73.9496°W / 40.6815; -73.9496