Haitian community launches campaign to save Brooklyn school, historic landmark

Dr. Daniel Honore.
Photo courtesy: Dr. Daniel Honore

A group of Haitian immigrants, parents and faith leaders in Brooklyn on Sept. 16 launched an effort to build rent-stabilized housing in Crown Heights that will also fund the restoration of their historic school building.

“This project will protect our past and ensure our future by raising needed funds to restore our school building while providing rent-stabilized housing for the Crown Heights community,” said Dr. Daniel Honore, the Haitian-born president of the Northeastern Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. 

“It is rare that affordable housing for a community can be built in order to preserve its history and save a school,” he added. “But our proposal does just that.”

Dr. Honore said the 40-year-old Hebron Seventh-day Adventist Bilingual School will be the beneficiary of a collaboration with Hope Street Capital to build more than 180 units of rent-regulated housing on a parking lot behind the school’s 131-year-old landmarked building in Crown Heights, if the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission approves the proposed project. 

Proceeds will go toward making needed repairs to the structure, which has deteriorated in recent years, Dr. Honore said.

He said the Hebron School – which primarily teaches lower-income children from Brooklyn’s Haitian Community – is already in danger of closing and that the school will not be able to open and operate for this upcoming 2020 school year due to the current hazardous structural conditions.

“We are proud to be a part of the Crown Heights community, where we have educated young Haitian immigrants at our bilingual school for 40 years as the first Haitian Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America,” said school leader Pastor Moise Manigat. 

“We see it as our responsibility to preserve a piece of Crown Heights’ history by restoring our landmarked school building,” he added. “At the same time, this project would allow us to keep providing young people from modest backgrounds with a strong education and the foundation they need to launch their lives in America.”

By building rent-stabilized housing on the vacant land, including 30 percent of affordable rental units, Dr. Honore said the school will be able to raise the funds needed to preserve its building. 

He said the new apartments will also fit the style of the neighborhood, following an understated red-brick design purposely reminiscent and respectful of the adjacent landmarked building and similar in size to nearby buildings.

The project’s developer, Hope Street Capital, has won approvals in the past to work on landmarked properties, including a recent collaboration with the 19th century landmark Church of St. Luke and St. Matthew preserve at 520 Clinton Ave. in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, Dr. Honore said.

He said the school families and congregants of the church are organizing to advance the project, as it goes through a landmarks process. 

Learn more at www.savethehebronschool.com.

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