Demolishing a Sinking School Building


Dear Editor:

The move by some alleged historic preservationists to save the old St. Peter’s Grammar School Downtown Jersey City reveals their true ignorance of history.

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Back in the early 19th century after the Dutch settled and built up the Paulus Hook area, they wanted to civilize the rough and ready seacoast community. They awarded four tracts of land to four different religious denominations. The Dutch Reformed and Episcopalians were given the better back to back land on Grand to Sussex. Today, they are Ss. Peter & Paul Orthodox on Grand with Our Lady of Czestochowa Catholic on Sussex. Two blocks down on marsh land were St. Peter’s and a Methodist Church.

St. Peter’s began to sink in the 1960s and was demolished for a smaller church that opened in 1966; it is no longer a church but part of St. Peter’s Prep. The Methodist church was bought by St. Peter’s Parish, demolished and St. Peter’s Grammar School was erected. It is now closed and empty for two decades, also prey to the marsh land and sinking.

Preserving that building is unsafe and too costly. A new structure by Prep can be engineered properly to stabilize any future building. Demanding Prep to restore it makes no sense. There are many structures in Jersey City that have been and will be preserved. The old grammar school is not one of them. Prep has preserved and restored several buildings and have a good track record of historic preservation.

Very Rev. Alexander M. Santora, Prep ’70