A High School for Future Preservationists

April 10, 2013 6:34 pm Last Updated: April 10, 2013 6:34 pm

NEW YORK—When it opens its doors this fall, a unique school will offer New York City students a chance to start a career in skilled craftsmanship and historic preservation. 

The Mather Building Arts and Craftsmanship High School will offer education in carpentry, masonry, landscape management, and decorative finishes. Rather than choosing a specialization, students will be taught all four trades. The school has plans to offer internships, job-shadows, and other hands-on experience at job sites throughout the city. Graduates will have a set of real-world skills that will increase their chances of employment.

Steven Spaulding, the director of the Historic Architecture, Conservation, and Engineering Center, had the idea to start a school where students could learn craftsman trades. 

“He had this idea that we should train students in these basic craftsman trades. We just don’t have them out there in America to protect things like Ellis Island and Hamilton Grange,” said Larry D. Gabbard, project director and founder of the school.

The school is named after Stephen Tyng Mather, the first director of the National Park Service (NPS.) The New York City Department of Education and NPS are collaborating on the project.

Mather High School will accept 108 students for the 2013–2014 school year and 432 at full capacity. Average class size for the core curriculum classes is expected to be between 25 and 29 students. Meanwhile, class size for the trade classes will be between 15 and 20 students.

Mather High school will be housed in the same building as Murry Bergtraum High School for Business Careers in Civic Center, Manhattan.

“I think this is an incredible way of learning,” said Patti A. Reilly, project director for Mather High School from the National Park Service.