Our Buildings: Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School

Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School was the first Catholic school in Brooklyn. (Illustration by Daniel Lewis)
Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School was the first Catholic school in Brooklyn. (Illustration by Daniel Lewis)

What makes a neighborhood? People, pets and the stories that make up our days. But we also have our buildings, the places where we work, play, eat, sleep, learn and live. Throughout Fort Greene and Clinton Hill, you will find everything from colonial brownstones to housing projects to luxury apartments: buildings that have been here since the earliest days of this country. Have a building you think we should highlight? Let us know in the comments or email us at TheNabe@TheNabe.me.

What does Rudolph Giuliani have in common with the Notorious B.I.G.? They both studied at Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School. A host to food stalls and handicrafts by summer and a Catholic high school during the rest of the year, Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School has existed since before Brooklyn even joined New York City. In fact, when it opened as the St. James School in 1823, it was the first Catholic school in the newly-formed diocese of Brooklyn.

Situated down the street from the Brooklyn Masonic Temple (which you may remember from this column a few weeks ago), the school building was constructed in 1933 to replace the original building on Jay Street. When the school moved, it was renamed after Bishop John Loughlin, an Irish immigrant and the first Bishop of the diocese of Brooklyn.

At first glance, Bishop Loughlin may look like a standard high school: it’s big and boxy, with large windows and a huge yard. But according to a 1978 report by the Landmarks Preservation Committee, the details of the building reference a variety of architectural styles. From Tudor archways, to the Elizabethan Revivalist bay by the playground, to the coat of arms carved into the walls of the building, the closer you look at the school, the more you become aware of the rich history behind it.

Bishop Loughlin now hosts a new local legend: the Brooklyn Flea. The weekly outdoor market has taken over the athletic fields behind the school on every spring and summer Saturday since 2008, and will return to Fort Greene in just a few weeks, on April 5.

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