Chance to shoot old schoolhouse brings out volunteers

Public School No. 4, also known as Annie Lytle Elementary School in Riverside, has long held an attraction for artists…graffiti artists, primarily, but local photographers were invited to the site to legally shoot photos inside and out…after first volunteering two hours of clean-up time.

Gathering on Jan. 6, a couple dozen people came with shovels, wheelbarrows, weed eaters and, of course, cameras. The event, hosted by the Annie Lytle Preservation Group and sponsored by local photographer Mark Krancer, was a rare opportunity to photograph the 100-year-old school building.

Despite regular efforts to maintain the exterior of the building, including mowing the grass and weeding, the interior requires coordinated events to remove decades of detritus from the old school, as it is a hazardous environment and volunteers come at their own risk.

During Hurricane Irma, plywood panels on the auditorium’s windows were blown out and the group is unable to replace them which, despite a padlocked fence, leaves the building open to vandalism.

“The break-ins have been minor,” said Patsy Bryant, group clean-up coordinator. “Whoever has broken in has not done any serious damage, such as tagging, etc. but what has me most concerned is a hole that has been knocked out of a cemented window. Someone has been working on that a little at a time.”

Bryant said clean-up volunteers indicated they would try to fix the hole, and floodlights have been installed outside the courtyard, which should help with security.

For more than a dozen years, the preservation group has been granted permission to work on the property under a hold harmless agreement, which has been honored each time the property has been sold. The building was last purchased in June 2017 by Annie Lytle LLC, located at 2650 Rosselle St., for $106,800 in back taxes after it went up for auction in May 2017.

By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

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