Paul Rudolph Elementary School Slated for Demolition

Rendering of Rudolph's design for Chorley Elementary School, built on a hillside in Middletown, N.Y.

Credit: Paul Rudolph Foundation

It's déjà vu all over again.

A school designed by Paul Rudolph in Middletown, N.Y., could be torn down for a parking lot. Voters last December approved a proposal to build a new $63.5 million school to replace the existing John Chorley Elementary School. If that sounds familiar, it's exactly what happened to Rudolph's Riverview High School in Sarasota, Fla., which was demolished this summer.

The roof of the 40-year-old building, located 65 miles northwest of New York City, is leaking, and school officials estimate that it would cost $35 to $30 million to repair Chorley.

"The present Chorley building is no longer a viable structure. The cost of upgrading the present structure will be comparable to the same amount of money to construct a new building," Chorley's principal Frederick Griffin wrote in his December 2008 newsletter.

But Kelvin Dickinson, co-president of the five-year-old Paul Rudolph Foundation, says those estimates are high.

"I was stunned that it was still in such good condition," Dickinson says. "The amount of money they were saying needed to be spent was not on par with what it would really take for an adaptive reuse."

No date has been set for demolition, according to several school officials.

Several of Rudolph's 400 projects have been razed in the past five years. "It has been a rough couple of years," Dickinson says.

Chorley doesn't have to go the way of Riverview, Dickenson says. He and school board officials are discussing other uses for the structure—perhaps a community center or another school. "There are definitely things we can do to save this building."

More about Modernism + the Recent Past


For more photos, stories, and tips, subscribe to the print edition of Preservation magazine.

Subscribe to the Today's News RSS feed


Submitted by kitty at: March 17, 2010
Have you ever been to Chorley School? This is a poorly designed building. They have spent so much money for the leaky roof and it still leaks. The heating system is terrible. You freeze in one wing and sweat in another. It is not handicapped accessible. Handicapped people cannot go to 3 out of 4 wings in the building. Have you looked into the Gov't Center in Goshen that he also built. Little by little they are tearing it down ad rebuilding it - if you would like to preserve it come and move it to your town!!!!