History of PS/MS 165 Robert E. Simon

Robert E. Simon

Robert E. Simon Sr. (1877-1935) owned a real estate conglomerate named 150 West 57th Street Realty Company Inc. In 1925 Simon purchased Carnegie Hall from Louise Carnegie, widow of Andrew Carnegie, with the understanding that he must maintain the building as a concert stage for five years, unless another hall capable of taking its place was built.. Simon formed Carnegie Hall Inc. and oversaw the entire operation of the Hall from 1925 until his untimely death from a heart attack in 1935; his son, Robert Simon Jr., inherited majority ownership. The presidency of Carnegie Hall Inc. passed from Robert Simon Sr. to M. Murray Weisman from 1936-1939, and to Robert Simon Jr. in 1940. Except for the years 1943 to 1946, when Simon served in World War II, he remained president of Carnegie Hall Inc. until 1960 when the Hall was sold.

Under the leadership of the Simon family Carnegie Hall expanded and grew. Significant improvements included the addition of street-level storefronts, the renovation of the studio towers and the replacement of the Hall’s original organ. These improvements enabled Carnegie Hall to remain open during the Great Depression and to continue a tradition of musical excellence.  (carnegiehall.org)

Robert E. Simon Jr.

Robert E. “Bob” Simon, Jr. (born April 10, 1914 in New York, New York is a real estate entrepreneur most known for founding the community of Reston, Virginia.

After graduating from Harvard University, Simon took over the family real estate management and development business. In 1961, with the proceeds from the sale of a family property, Carnegie Hall, Simon purchased 6,750 acres (27 km²) of land in Fairfax County, Virginia and hired Conklin + Rossant to develop a master plan for the new town of Reston, Virginia, a planned community well known on the national level. (The town’s name was derived from Simon’s initials and the word “town”.) Simon’s new town concept emphasized quality of life for the individual and provided a community where people could live, work, and play without driving long distances.Simon returned to live in Reston in 1993 and helped celebrate Reston’s 40th birthday in 2004. In that same year a bronze statue of Simon was placed on a park bench in Washington Plaza on Lake Anne, the original heart of the community he built.  (Wikipedia.org)

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PS/MS 165 Building History

P.S. 165
234 West 109th Street
between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue

C.B.J. Snyder, ca. 1900

This French Renaissance Revival-style public school building represents one of the finest and most intact works of C.B.J. Snyder, who served as Superintendent of School Buildings from 1891 to 1923. P.S. 165 is the prototype for Snyder’s signature “H” plan for public schools. The innovative arrangement of classrooms around courtyards and steel-frame construction allowed for enormous windows, creating light- and air-filled learning environments. Health and safety in school architecture were growing concerns, reflecting the expansion of the city’s educational system as a result of the influx of immigrants in the late 19th century. Snyder’s design, which took optimum advantage of less expensive midblock sites such as this one, was replicated throughout the city. Today, only a handful of examples of this important building type remain.

In 1936, the school was named after Robert E. Simon, a philanthropist and real-estate operator who owned Carnegie Hall. P.S. 165 is better known by its students and nearby residents as “The Palace School.”