Pile driving equipment and excavation machinery has arrived at P.S. 19 Marino P. Jeantet School at 98-02 Roosevelt Avenue, in northern Corona. A five-story, 96,493-square-foot expansion, designed by Murphy Burnham & Buttrick Architects, will double the size of the elementary school, which has suffered from severe overcrowding for decades.
Upon opening in 1917, the elevated IND Flushing Line spurred a construction boom, turning local farmland into lucrative real estate. At the time of the school’s 1922 completion, some adjacent streets were still under construction.
An entire block, bound by Roosevelt Avenue to the north, 98th Street to the west, 99th Street to the east, and 41st Avenue to the south, was reserved for the school grounds.
The facility doubled in size when a south wing was added at some point prior to the 1950s. The school was named after Marino P. Jeantet, a saxophonist, local restaurateur, and onetime chairman of Community Planning Board 3, soon after his 1973 death. One of the civic leader’s accomplishments involves saving over 50 houses by blocking construction of a new high school. As the city struggled with depopulation and looming bankruptcy, the Board of Education closed almost 100 schools, exacerbating school crowding in Corona and elsewhere in the city.
By 1994, School District 24, which encompasses Maspeth, Elmhurst, Corona and Middle Village, as well as parts of Sunnyside, Woodside, Jackson Heights and Rego Park, was the city’s most crowded. To alleviate the citywide shortage, Schools Chancellor Ramón C. Cortines proposed building 33 new schools, 17 additions, and extensive renovations for $7.5 billion, but the overhaul was limited to repairs when Mayor Rudolph Giuliani slashed the budget to $3.4 billion. Severe crowding at P.S. 19 forced classes to be held in closets, hallways and stairwells, according to a New York Times account from the time, and bathrooms were converted into teacher space.
The 10 “temporary” trailer classrooms that were erected in the yard the following year lasted two decades. In 2011, the Times reported that the 2,000-student school continued to use service space as classrooms, employed staggered assemblies and dismissals, used the cafeteria as a music room and adult ESL study hall, and introduced timed bathroom breaks.
In 2009, Parents’ Association President Maria Quiroz petitioned the city to expand the school. Permits were filed in April 2016, under the address of 40-10 99th Street. The five-story, 94-foot-tall, steel-framed structure would rise immediately north of the existing building, replacing trailer classrooms and boosting the school to 187,824 square feet.
Murphy Burnham & Buttrick Architects, which has handled a variety of school renovations and expansions, was a logical choice for the project. The five-story expansion translates the original building’s traditional motif of red brick and white stone accents into a modernist aesthetic. The addition is connected to its predecessor with a new shared core. An off-white façade facing Roosevelt Avenue promises to lighten the streetscape beneath the elevated train.
A low-rise rear wing features partially enclosed athletic space on the rooftop. The architect’s website lists a full‐sized gymnasium, two cafeterias and specialty instruction classrooms for art, music, science and exercise.
P.S. 361 Q, recently completed on 57th Street in Woodside, adds 472 elementary school seats to the district. An expansion at Kathryn M. Phelan P.S. 11, in progress a few blocks south of P.S. 361 Q, would add around 500 more seats, bringing relief for thousands of elementary school students in west-central Queens.