Stained glass beauty inside an 18th Street school

Bayardrustinwindows2From the outside, the Bayard Rustin “educational complex”on 18th Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenue looks like a fortress.

Built in 1930 as The Straubenmuller Textile High School, it’s an imposing structure that doesn’t appear to be very inviting.

Walk into the massive lobby, though, and you’ll notice something really imaginative only students and teachers get to see: two enormous, richly detailed stained glass windows.

Bayardrustinwindows3Each window has different panels depicting students learning grammar, music, math, history, and other subjects even high school students at a technical school like this one were once expected to know.

There are also scenes from ancient Greek and Medieval legends. The phrase “Thou gavest thy good spirit to instruct them” runs along the bottom.

They’re not the only examples of art hiding in the building.

Painted on all four lobby walls are murals of great civilizations—including workers putting together steel beams high above the 1930s Manhattan skyline.


Painted by WPA muralist Jean Charlot, they’re a bit faded, and worth a look (better ask school security officers first though—they have their eye on you.)

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11 Responses to “Stained glass beauty inside an 18th Street school”

  1. wendy Says:

    Amazing how the public schools back then were full of inspiring art and beauty — showing respect for the students and teachers who spent time there. I worked in a school with beautiful murals dating from about 1909. Today, nobody will fund the commons. Anything “public” is looked down upon by those who will pay historically low taxes on the millions they have. What will history make of us?

  2. wildnewyork Says:

    Great observation. The city officials who oversaw the construction of schools a century ago could have cut corners, but they seemed to understand that the learning environment had to be uplifting and inspiring.

  3. Stained glass beauty inside an 18th Street school « Ephemeral New York « The Quotidian Hudson Says:

    […] Stained glass beauty inside an 18th Street school « Ephemeral New York. […]

  4. Laura Goff Parham Says:

    Nice photos. I shared it on the Stained Glass of America FB page.

  5. wildnewyork Says:

    Thank you! Lovely page.

  6. Ellen Levitt Says:

    I know that HS had another, earlier name. It was one of the first to be closed and re-orged.

  7. Ellen Levitt Says:

    Yeah, it was Charles Evans Hughes HS way back when. Then it was Humanities, and now…whatever.

  8. Jules Says:

    That last window is a great depiction of the 7 Liberal Arts, the traditional basis for education. Everything a free man needs to succeed!

  9. Paul Says:

    I’ve been in that school and seen these windows. I wanted to photograph them but can’t imagine the possibility of doing so given the security concerns. How were these photographs obtained? Did the security officers or the administration of the school give special permission? Who was the photographer?

  10. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    I took the photos. I walked into the lobby and asked the security guard if I could take a few shots, and she said yes.

  11. Ned Pratt Says:

    I’m interested in the stained glass- do you have any information about on who the artists were? Do you know if it was a WPA Project?

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