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History

Building History

History of 301 East 29th Street

Sitting at the corner of 29th Street and Second Avenue, the Churchill School occupies nearly a half a city block as well as an important place in the history of the neighborhood. Many within the Churchill Community know that before the building became the Churchill School and Center it was the Madison Square Boys Club, later the Madison Square Boys and Girls Club. Former members often wander by and look at the building with an eye to the past, wondering what became of their clubhouse, while many within our community often wonder what our building was like 40 years ago. Most know the library was once a swimming pool, that the 6th floor was the roof, but don't know that they often flooded the roof for ice skating and boating. More importantly, most don't realize the special place that our building held in the neighborhood as the Madison Square Boys Club, providing a safe place for the neighborhood children to learn and grow.
The Madison Square Boys Club’s original clubhouse sat on 30th street, between First and Second Avenue and served the boys of the neighborhood beginning in May 1920. In 1939, The Hayden Foundation donated the money for a new building at 301 East 29th Street. The cornerstone for the building was set in November 1939 with construction ending in April 1940, it is hard to imagine that such a building could be constructed in less than 6 months today. The Boys Club contained a rooftop play area, a swimming pool, theater, gymnasium, classrooms, a “Campfire Room”, an activity center and many other areas within the building to keep kids busy and out of trouble. Neighborhood children were given the opportunity to learn theater, arts, sports, outdoor skills, and generally existed as a place for kids to spend free time. The building was a meeting place for kids from all over the neighborhood and for nearly 60 years lived its mission to serve young people. It closed in 1999.
When Churchill purchased 301 East 29th Street, major renovations were made to turn the building into what we now know as the Churchill School and Center. The pool was removed, two floors were added, and classrooms and a library were added. The gym was kept in tact and the fireplace in the “Campfire Room” was preserved and sits in what is now an art studio on the 6th floor. Gone are the many fireplaces and original touches of the Madison Square Boys Club, but what remains is an organization dedicated to serving the children of New York City.