El Barrio's Artspace PS 109 is a vibrant community of artists and their families developed to showcase and support the arts in East Harlem.
El Barrio's Artspace PS 109 was a public school before it was boarded up and abandoned in 1995. It is a stunning edifice, designed by Charles B.J. Snyder and completed in 1898. It is five stories tall with a steeply pitched roof. Several copper-clad cupolas and decorative terra cotta adorn the exterior of the building. Although much of the terra cotta had been removed, it was restored as part of the renovation project.
The four top floors of El Barrio's Artspace PS 109, formerly school classrooms were converted to 89 units of affordable live/work housing for the tenant artists, who are encouraged to display their artwork in the hallways outside of their apartments. The ground floor and lower level have dedicated 3,000 square feet for a resident gallery and an additional 10,000 square feet of non-residential space for arts and cultural organizations.
El Barrio's Artspace PS 109, although still relatively new to the neighborhood, is quickly evolving into a pivotal and popular part of East Harlem. Diverse and innovative shows and exhibits attract visitors from all over the city. Often passers-by stop to inquire about the goings on and sometimes recall attending the school many years ago. Perhaps what is most unique about El Barrio's Artspace PS 109 is the community it has created where artists work together and encourage and appreciate each other’s unique visions and creativity.