The High School of Music & Art

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Not to be confused with High School of Art and Design.
The High School of Music & Art
443-465 West 135th Street
New York, New York
United States
Type Public Magnet High school
Established 1936
Founder Fiorello H. LaGuardia
Campus urban
Closed 1984
Merged with High School of Performing Arts
To form Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & the Arts

The High School of Music & Art, informally known as "Music & Art", was a public high school at 443-465 West 135th Street, New York, New York, USA that existed from 1936 until 1984, when it merged into the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & the Arts.


New York City Mayor Fiorello H. LaGuardia started the high school in 1936, an event he described as “the most hopeful accomplishment” of his administration.[1] The school was made up of three departments: Art, Instrumental Music, and Vocal Music. In 1984 Music & Art and its sister school, the NYC High School of Performing Arts, were merged into a new school, the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts at a new building in the Lincoln Center area of Manhattan. It was a "magnet" school, meant to draw talented students from all boroughs.

The building that once housed the High School of Music & Art is located in the Hamilton Heights neighborhood of Harlem near the campus of the City College of New York and St. Nicholas Park. The building now houses the A. Philip Randolph Campus High School, a "magnet school" of the New York City Department of Education.

Architectural significance[edit]

The 1924 gothic revival building won status as a landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1997.[2] The building was designed by William H. Gompert, Architect & Superintendent of School Buildings for the New York City Board of Education, to house the New York Training School for Teachers. The Training School became the New York Teachers Training College from 1931 to 1933. That school was abolished during the Depression when there was a surplus of teachers for the city's school system, and Mayor LaGuardia used the opportunity to create the High School of Music & Art.

Architecturally, the building blends in with the older gothic revival buildings of the City College campus, designed by noted architect George B. Post around 1900 to create a setting that came to be known as “the poor man’s Harvard.”

Music & Art graduates often refer to the building as "The Castle," a reference to the design of its gothic towers, and the decorative gargoyles done in a quirky and playful style that the Landmarks Commission report describes as “finials in the shape of creatures bearing shields.” The tower rooms have dramatic acoustics, which Music & Art used as choral practice rooms. The large gymnasium features large Tudor-arch-shaped windows on two sides that at certain times during the day stream sunlight into the room. The auditorium has excellent acoustics, and features diamond-shaped amber windows that during daylight cast a warm glow on its dark wood interior. The iron ends of the auditorium seats have a casting with an image of the Tudor window arches in the gymasium.

According to the Landmark Commission report, this was not an expensive building for its time, and many of the structural components (like the staircase bracings in the stairwell) were left exposed to save money. Yet lots of thought went into humanizing the space and creating a good environment for learning, with plenty of natural light and air, expansive collaborative spaces, and lots of playful decoration thrown in for good measure:

“The five- and six-story (plus basement and central tower) L-shaped New York Training School for Teachers/New York Model School was designed in an abstracted contemporary Collegiate Gothic style and clad in limestone and mottled buff-to brown iron-spot brick, with large window bays filled with unusual folding-casement steel sash windows. Exterior articulation, divided vertically by pavilions, buttresses, and square towers, also differentiated the model school and training school portions, as well as a 'churchlike' wing housing an auditorium above which is a gymnasium.”

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ Steigman, Benjamin: Accent on Talent -- New York's High School of Music & Art. Wayne State University Press, 1984 LCCN 64-13873.
  2. ^ Landmark designation for the New York Training School for Teachers From Retrieved November 5, 2012.
  3. ^ "Obituary: Gloria Davy". Opera News. December 3, 2012. 
  4. ^ "Obituary: Amy A. Kass". Chicago Tribune. August 21, 2015. 
  5. ^ Hannah, Jim (20 November 2014). "A Bronx tale". Wright State University. Retrieved 18 August 2015. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°49′06″N 73°57′00″W / 40.818379°N 73.95005°W / 40.818379; -73.95005