With its striking architecture and innovative curriculum serving a diverse student body, Samuel Gompers Industrial High School is among the city’s most distinctive public high school buildings.
NEW YORK – Today, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) designated the Samuel Gompers Industrial High School in the South Bronx as an individual landmark. With its striking architecture and innovative curriculum serving a diverse student body, Samuel Gompers Industrial High School is among the city’s most distinctive public high school buildings.
“The Samuel Gompers Industrial High School is a significant landmark in the Bronx, where Landmarks Preservation Commission staff has been working on a comprehensive survey,” said Landmarks Preservation Commission Chair Sarah Carroll. “The building is incredibly striking – up close and from a distance – and has a fascinating history as a technical high school focused on electricity and trades associated with it, including lighting up Broadway’s ‘Great White Way’.”
Located at 455 Southern Boulevard in the Mott Haven section of the South Bronx, Samuel Gompers Industrial High School is a significant civic structure designed in the mid-1920s by William H. Gompert and Walter C. Martin and constructed in 1931-1932. Blending Medieval Revival and Art Deco details, the arcaded brick facades and richly-ornamented towers make this high school building an impressive public structure.
Prominent in its neighborhood and visible from vehicles traveling on the elevated Bruckner Expressway, Samuel Gompers Industrial High School has two towers, a square plan with a center courtyard, and facades clad with various shades of light and dark brown brick. The main façade is decorated with inscriptions from Marcus Aurelius and Benjamin Franklin, as well as limestone and terracotta reliefs that illustrate various trades that depend on expertise in electricity, including architecture, aviation, drafting, light, mechanics, motors, science, wiring, and woodwork. Above the three main entrances, large relief panels proclaim the structure’s purpose. There are two bronze reliefs that depict heroic workers standing in front of an industrial skyline, as well as limestone panels of the seals of New York City and the Board of Education.
Noted in the press as a “model of its kind,” and for its extensive electrical laboratory, Samuel Gompers Industrial High School for Boys opened in September 1935, with the majority of students originally coming from The Bronx, followed by Upper Manhattan, and a small number from Queens and Brooklyn. By the early 1970s, most students were Black and Latino and girls were first admitted in the early 1980s. The school closed in 2012 and was converted to an educational campus containing three independent secondary schools: Mott Haven Community High School, Health Education and Research Occupations High School (H.E.R.O.), and New Visions Charter High School for the Humanities II. Since its opening in 1935, there have been extremely few changes to the building’s exterior, and it retains its original ornament, brickwork, and arched multi-pane windows.
About the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC)
The Landmarks Preservation Commission is the mayoral agency responsible for protecting and preserving New York City’s architecturally, historically and culturally significant buildings and sites. Since its creation in 1965, LPC has granted landmark status to more than 37,800 buildings and sites, including 1,447 individual landmarks, 121 interior landmarks, 11 scenic landmarks, and 154 historic districts and extensions in all five boroughs. For more information, visit www.nyc.gov/landmarks and connect with us via www.facebook.com/NYCLandmarks and www.twitter.com/nyclandmarks.