The New York Institute For Special Education

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A cupola is a dome-shaped ornamental structure placed on the top of a larger roof or dome. In some cases, the entire main roof of a tower or spire can be a cupola. Our cupola is a smaller structure which sets on top of the main roof. Access to the cupola is on the fourth floor by climbing a stairway inside the building. This type of cupola is called a belvedere or a widow's walk.

Edward M. Van Cleve took leadership of the school in 1914 and he was tasked with rebuilding the school away from its 9th Avenue and 34th Street location to a new site. This was a move that had been started and not completed many times since before the Civil War. Land was purchased in Bronxville, Yonkers and Washington Heights and all eventually failed to be a suitable site for a new school. The start of First World War in 1917, again delayed the start of construction of the school.

It was money made available by the estate of F. Augustus Schermerhorn that led to the ground breaking here on Pelham Parkway on April 5, 1923. The cornerstone was laid on June 12, 1923. Construction moved so quickly that classes opened in the Bronx on November 3, 1924.

It was over 87 years later, early on Friday morning of November 12, 2010 that a massive crane drove up to the front steps of The Schermerhorn Building and gingerly lifted the cupola of the top of the building and laid it to rest on the ground. The much needed repair will take place over the next 6 months to the "widow's walk" and the columns that held up the 7 foot copper dome.

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