What’s in a name?
When it comes to seven Queens schools slated to be closed in June and reopened with new names in September, William Shakespeare was wrong, Queens historian Richard Hourahan said. When the schools, which the city voted to close last week, open their doors again with new names, they will not smell just as sweet.
“To throw out the legacy of the name Flushing High School, or Newtown High School, is not wise,” said Hourahan, the collections manager at Queens Historical Society. “They are destroying tradition, wiping it out. That’s terrible.”
Each of the seven Queens schools pegged for closure have long and interesting histories, but, as the city’s first public high school, Flushing High School stands out.
Flushing High School, which it has always been named, was founded in 1875 with a class of seven. There were just six individuals in the first graduating class in 1878, and 25 years passed before the school’s population reached 200 students — a far cry from the approximately 3,000 students it currently serves.
The school was founded when Flushing was a township and included the villages of College Point, Whitestone, Flushing, Bayside, Douglaston and Little Neck.
The neo-Gothic structure it still operates in on Northern Boulevard was built between 1912 and 1915.
Prior to Flushing’s founding in 1875, students paid tuition to attend high school, and free public schools for younger students in the city began in the 1850s, Hourahan said.
“The idea of a high school for people who were not upper class was considered ludicrous,” Hourahan said. “People then would go to school until the age of 8, if they went to school at all.”
The school — which features turrets, gargoyles, stained glass windows and an organ in its auditorium — was designated as a New York City landmark in 1991.
It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1992.