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Brooklyn Heights Montessori School Expands into Adjacent Firehouse

COBBLE HILL — The Brooklyn Heights Montessori School has expanded to include an adjacent building on Dean Street, making room for a new theater, additional classrooms and outdoor space.

To meet the demands of a growing student population at the private school at 185 Court St., the school purchased the property at 12 Dean St., a former fire patrol station, for $1.9 million in July 2009.  The space finally opened last month after a gut renovation. Students streamed into the new rooms the first week of April, after spring recess.

The original campus consists of a four-story building on Court Street, with a rooftop playground. The new building, which adds 11,000 square-feet to the campus, is connected to the main building through the first floor and creates an L-shaped campus on the corner of Court and Bergen streets.

The first floor of the new building is home to a new multi-purpose performance space, dubbed the Firehouse Theater, featuring state-of-the-art lighting and sound equipment.

“We’ve already held some performances in the Firehouse Theater,” said Michelle Eldon, director of communications at the school. “People were very excited.”

The second floor is dedicated to three new middle school classrooms, a common area and a terrace that connects to the main building. The science and math lab on the second floor leads into the terrace, where middle school students will create a garden as a part of a hands-on project.

During construction, the school took the opportunity to spruce up the main building as well. An old multi-purpose room was turned into a larger library, and the old library space was turned into a pre-school classroom. The former middle school classroom in the main building will eventually be used for visual arts, music and language classes, noted Eldon.

The Montessori School has grown rapidly over the 47 years it’s been open, and this isn’t the first time the school has been fortunate enough to acquire adjacent property for expansion.

Brooklyn Heights Montessori School began as a pre-school with a small space at 185 Court St. It eventually expanded to include elementary school programs in 1992.

In the mid 1990s, the school purchased two neighboring buildings on Bergen Street. The two warehouse buildings were torn down and replaced by a new four-story building. By the time construction was complete in 1999, the school was ready to expand again to include middle school programs, serving grades seven and eight.

“In the New York real estate market, not everyone can find a space right next door or behind it,” said Eldon. “We were able to stay as one campus.”