Public invited to bring home a piece of RCS history

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published August 23, 2016

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ROCHESTER — The Rochester Community Schools district is giving the public a chance to own a piece of history.

A limited number of bricks from the old Brooklands Elementary School building that was demolished over the summer are now available to the community.

Pete Muscio, the district’s director of capital projects and facility operations, said the demolition of the building went smoothly, adding that the project is now complete. 

“We were able to salvage 500 bricks, so the community has an opportunity to obtain a memento from the building,” he said in a statement. “For many community members, the structure was more than just a building; it was a piece of Rochester history.”

RCS Community Relations Director Lori Grein said the district decided to salvage the bricks due to requests from members of the public.

“We just started getting random calls from the community asking about the opportunity to have a memento of the building. We put our thinking caps on, and we thought the bricks would be a great opportunity, because it’s actually a piece of the building,” she said.

People can purchase a custom brick, engraved with “Brooklands School, 1927-2016,” for $50, or they can buy a nonengraved brick for $5, with all proceeds benefiting the Rochester Community Schools Foundation — a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting advanced learning for students.

Grein said the response from the community wanting to purchase bricks has been great thus far, with many members already calling to place their orders.

“We were only able to salvage 500 bricks, so when they are gone, they are gone. But so far we have had a nice response from the community, and we look forward to it continuing until the 500 bricks are gone,” she said.

Brick pre-orders are now being accepted through Sept. 30. To reserve a brick, call (248) 726-3190.

The old Brooklands School has deep roots in the community, according to Grein.

The building, which was built on Auburn Road, between Rochester and John R roads, in 1927, served as the Brooklands School for almost a quarter-century, until 1951, when the community expanded it and added three classrooms, a multipurpose room and a cafeteria. In 1953, Brooklands School joined the Rochester Community Schools district. The building grew to twice its original size when two additional wings were added in the 1960s and 1970s in response to the increasing size of the community.

In the fall of 1993, a new building was erected behind the original site, which currently houses approximately 500 students in kindergarten through fifth grade. The older building was then used for the district’s Rochester Alternative and Adult Center for Education — commonly known as RACE — until 2014, when the program was moved to the Avondale School District due to building repairs that district officials deemed too costly. The building was demolished this summer.

In an effort to respect the memory of the building, Grein said the district planned to preserve the school’s dedication plaque — which was stolen in April before it was removed from the site — as well as the front benches and the cornerstone. She said the district also preserved any valuable elements inside the building for repurposing, as well as bricks for the community.

“We had a dedication plaque that was actually stolen — and that has still not been returned, which is unfortunate — but we were able to locate old pictures and replicate the original dedication plaque,” Grein said. “We salvaged as much as we could. We actually repurposed some items as well. … The replicated dedication plaque and the other pieces of history, we certainly want to put them in a place of honor, and we are determining where that will be.”

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