The former Spring Garden Public School, located on 12th Street between Ogden and Parrish Streets, is a blighted structure that’s worth renovating. Imagine what a developer could do with the rooftop, already paved for basketball and such (removing the cage of course), and with the kind of skyline views that make developers think of money jingling in their pockets. The biggest challenge in terms of market rate development would probably be that the building is surrounded by hundreds of PHA homes in the Richard Allen development.

An old gem

Another angle

For now, the school is boarded up, with a front entrance decorated with empty bottles, graffiti and the dreams of vagrants passed. What has become of this building and the overgrown lot next door? We presume it was closed by the school district and left to the deference of the elements. But when?

We called the current Spring Garden School at 1146 Melon St., and the office person who answered the phone indicated that the school’s operations moved to their current home around 1986. This building, formerly the home of the Oliver Cornman School, was built in 1931 and was designed by the district itself, according to a building of the month award writeup from the 1970’s that we discovered. This deco building, like its predecessor, is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Current Spring Garden School. Image from Wikipedia

Above the school’s boarded up door is a sign for PASCEP Inc., the Pan-African Studies Community Education Programs Inc. According to the sign, the group offered adult GED classes, employment training, emergency assistance and more. We’re guessing that PASCEP took over the old school for some period of time, after the Spring Garden School moved down the street? But when did they leave?

Boarded up front door

The School District and Darrell Clarke’s office did not return calls seeking information. Does anyone know more about this building’s recent history and if there may be plans for this site on the horizon? With Blatstein’s Broad Street development blocks away, this plot could become prime real estate. But who will be brazen enough to demonstrate that if you transform a dilapidated building in an area surrounded by public housing, those who can afford it will come? We’ll just have to wait and see.

–Lou Mancinelli