Four Young Teachers had a Dream
On November 8, 1936, the dream of Henry Cordes, Mildred Harston, John B. Kenny (for whom the Kenny Gallery is named), and Jerod Magon — was realized. The School of Industrial Art opened its doors at 257 West 40th Street with 8 teachers and 128 students, all boys.
Students had to use orange crates as desks and sheets of plywood were cut down into drawing boards. Teachers licensed in art taught everything, including math and science.
Six months later, fifty-nine girls joined the student ranks. By December of 1939, the number of SIA teachers had grown from eight to twenty-nine, and there were 500 students. However, the building was in such disrepair they had to find another location. East 79th Street Annex became the new home of The School of Industrial Art.
Skilled artists were recruited to serve as teachers. An advisory commission, comprised of art industry leaders, was formed. They helped develop curricula and place graduates and provided entree for SIA into the “real world.” As SIA began to grow, another old elementary school on East 51st Street was added as an annex. Both buildings were of the Civil War era. Many of the facilities considered essential to a modern high school were missing.
After reviewing many alternative locations and often dealing with much opposition the school and its supporters prevailed in finding a location in the heart of Manhattan where it could relate to the industries it served.
In the Fall of 1960 SIA opened as the High School of Art & Design at 2nd Avenue and 57th Street.
Want to add your own story or recollections to the SIA/A&D history? Email your contribution to: firstname.lastname@example.org.