Historic skylight in need of fix

photo by Walter Pofeldt

Preston High School is reaching out to help fix a historic stained-glass skylight.

The all-girl’s Throggs Neck high school is embarking on a crowd-funding campaign on Crowdrise.com to help raise $30,000 for its Mercedes Hall Stained Glass Restoration Project.

The skylight, which may be as much as 150 years old, is in a part of Preston called the “mansion”, where about 40% of the school’s classes are held.

“It really is a technical marvel,” said Principal Jane Grendell. “There are some cracks in the glass. There is some evidence that it was patched at some point, but not really well. It is starting to sag a bit, so it is a safety concern.”

The school believes the skylight may be original to the building, added Advancement Director Gianna Dell’Olio, but there will be no way to tell for sure until it is taken down and repaired.

Fundraising goal

The goal is to use crowd-funding – made popular through websites like Crowdrise.com and also by Kickstarter.com – where individuals and organizations can raise money for worthwhile projects and goals.

“As the borough kicks off its centennial celebration, we feel that the timing was perfect to begin this campaign,” said Dell’Olio. “Preston High School is an iconic Bronx institution and a living piece of local history. We hope that many of our friends, alumnae and neighbors will feel as passionate about restoring this skylight as we do.”

Grendell said the goal is also to engage the local community and hopefully raise money from their Bronx neighbors.

“We are turning to a crowd-funding site because we are an all-girls private high school, and the needs of a school like this are very many,” she said. “We have wonderful alumnae and donors, but we are hoping that we can attract the interest of the Bronx community. Because aside from this being a wonderful high school, this building has a tremendous story to it and historical value.”

Historic mansion

Formerly known as The Huntington Mansion, it is a former estate built in the mid-19th century that served as home to the Huntington and Havemeyer families.

It was bought by the Sisters of Devine Compassion, the sponsors of Preston High School, in the 1920s, according to the school.

It is on a Parks Department walking tour of local mansions that includes the Bartow-Pell Mansion in Pelham Bay Park, said the principal.

The school plans to hire Rohlf’s Stained and Leaded Glass Studio in Mount Vernon, a well-known and respected contractor, and hopes to complete work during this year’s summer recess, the principal said.

To learn more about the campaign, contact Preston’s Advancement Office at (718) 863-9134 ext. 195.

The Crowdrise.com site is at www.crowdrise.com/PHSMHallStainedGlassRestore

Patrick Rocchio can be reach via e-mail at procchio@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3393

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