Open Mic: Loss of Historic Stone Walls at Schools


Larchmont–During the summer, improvements were planned for Murray Avenue School (built in 1922 according to the Larchmont Historical Society) and Chatsworth Avenue School (est. in 1902, according to Wikipedia)  in Larchmont, to mixed results:

murray wall

New main entrance, Murray Ave. School

murray wall

To the Editor:

I’ve been most upset to see our beautiful stone walls at our schools removed and replaced by cookie cutter, pre-made concrete blocks. What a downgrade! Amazing what they can hide in the budget.

Thanks for reporting,

Pam Washington
murray wall


Chatsworth Ave. School from Addison Ave.

16 thoughts on “Open Mic: Loss of Historic Stone Walls at Schools

  1. Construction has been going on at the large staircase of Murray Ave School during the dog days of August. Will be blessed with more industrial concrete blocks or will the staircase be restored to its original glory with wrought iron railings to match the building’s design? Not worried about aesthetics or history? Take your pick between the present Penn Station or Grand Central Station. Which will be a lasting legacy for future generations and still be utilized in the modern world? Grand Central has become the core to a very profitable business center with higher end retailers and restaurants. Penn station is a drab hallway leading to Long Island and New Jersey.

    Larchmont and Mamaroneck has a wonderful school system, but I would hope that is not the only reason one would choose to live in this historic community on Long Island Sound. If you just erase or destroy the past you end up without a sense of place or community.

  2. Please get over yourselves. What ever gave you the idea that the Mamaroneck community is willing to to pay for real granite at twice the cost engineered stone just to satisfy your asthetics. I would rather use that money for 5 new teachers.
    But hey my kids go to school for for a reason, not to socialize on the wall outside of school.

    • First of all, the bond issue called for repair of the existing granite walls, not the purchase of new ones. New granite is not the issue.

      Second, teachers’ salaries do not come out of a bond issue, which is a special expenditure.

      • I know that salaries do not come out of a bond issue. But, I also know that the financing for a bond issue comes out of my property taxes. I also know that instead of paying an additional $500K for granite repair in a bond issue I would rather have more teachers. I also believe that bonding capital projects does not count against the 2% cap, so eventually we will have beautiful buildings with no teachers…and still be paying high property taxes to finance numerous “special expenditures” like this one.
        People shouldn’t complain about the property taxes on one hand and say “cut, cut, cut” but then when an issue directly effects them have a change of heart and say “spend, spend spend”.

  3. I agree that it is unsightly and institution like compared to our old wall. On Murray, near the playground there seems to be no fence or wall to protect the kids from falling to a 6 foot drop. This should be addressed. The current wall is flush to the soil. I live across the street, and none of the residents were told about this new construction. When I called the school, they didn’t seem to be forewarned of this construction. Who designed this mess?

  4. The Murray Avenue Walls are awful. The original stone should be put back NOW. I’m serious put them back. These choices were environmentally, aesthetically and financially wrong. How could this happen? Those responsible need to be held responsible.

  5. It is hard to believe that the the entire wall surrounding Murray Ave School needed to be “replaced” with bleak lego style concrete blocks. Most stone walls can be repaired piece meal and the cost is much less then a total replacement. Has Larchmont and the tax payers been hoodwinked? I am sure all those beautiful stones were sold by the contractor for a pretty penny.

    When I drive by i feel as though I am passing the wall of a penitentiary. The entrance of this historic school has been ruined. I don’t recognize the school I graduated from in 1976 or my son in 2010. The proportion of the individual blocks are too small and the rustic charm is absent. They were better suited for a retaining wall along some nameless roadway abutting an industrial park.

    Now there is a proposal to “shorten” the width of the auditorium exterior stair case to create more “green space” that faces Murray Ave. We are told this will help decrease the cost of repairing these steps. This will just extend that horrible retaining wall further. Wasn’t the staircase designed by the architect from 1922 and altering this will effect the form and function of the building further? If i recall from my son’s events, plays, and graduation from Murray, as well as my own, this beautiful staircase allowed for easy egress and entrance into the auditorium and the school. It also gives a greater sense of openness and air around the building. Why close the space up more and create the feeling that Murray Ave School is a fortress or a prison.

    Until recently I was on the board of the Larchmont Historical Society for six years. There is such a sense of place in Larchmont with regard to preserving the integrity and character of the community, as well as, making it a wonderful place to raise a family. I still cannot believe this wall was approved.

    When it is determined that the brick walls of Murray Ave or Chatsworth Ave Schools need pointing and repair will the town approve a “cheap stucco” or fake brick facade to cover over everything? What about vinyl or aluminum siding?

    Lets hope that no further damage is done and the auditorium staircase remains! Maybe Larchmont can buy back the stones and they can be placed over that hideous wall.

  6. The school looks foreboding and more like a prison than a place for children. I can’t imagine what people wanting to move to Larchmont will say when they see these ugly schools.

  7. I totally agree. What were they thinking?

    How can we know about these things in advance so we can speak up before it’s too late?

    Don’t we still have an architectural review board to advise on plans which break every rule of harmony and aesthetics?

    These forbidding-looking walls are of no use to anyone, except those who supplied them.

  8. This is a shame. The wall has lost all the character and craftsmanship it once had. The concrete will look even worse with age. I thought maybe they were putting the concrete blocks in for support and then they were going to face the outside with original stonework. This is obviously not the case. Hopefully they are selling the stones to help pay for the costs.

  9. Couldn’t agree more with all comments! It makes me sad every time I drive by… Who approved this? If it’s considered a historical building shouldn’t preserving its original look be top priority? Or was top priority finding the cheapest stone out there. It is ugly ugly ugly.

  10. Truly very sad! Using Lego blocks to replace a beautifully old stone wall is just not right. I think there has been a true lack of appreciation for the history that was there. It has become terribly ugly, even the kids think its hideous.
    I could have used the beautiful old stones for my garden…

  11. Agree! It is so sad!! I’d love to know where that stone went…that is very valuable material…the contractor has it now?

  12. Totally agree with Pam. The new walls are horrendously ugly. The old walls were beautiful. These remarkable, historic buildings are being ruined by people who apparently have no appreciation at all for architectural style and history. How the hell did this happen? And they can’t even get the stupid things straight (stand next to one of the new walls and eyeball the lines along the joints).

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