preservation efforts - John w. chorley elementary school (1964-1969)
The Paul Rudolph Foundation is unequivocally not against a new elementary school for the students of Middletown, NY. The Foundation understands and supports the efforts of Middletown residents to provide a new school for their community. The Paul Rudolph Foundation opposes the destruction of Chorley Elementary as it is planned to be demolished for a surface parking lot. Relocation of the parking lot to allow Chorley Elementary to remain would not require the relocation of the proposed new school, or delay its construction.
This page is regularly updated. Please check back often to read the latest information about our efforts to save Chorley Elementary.
Chorley Elementary Exterior

On December 18th, 2008 voters in the Middletown, NY Enlarged School District passed a referendum (428 for, 238 against) to acquire additional adjacent property to build a new elementary school.  At the last minute a provision was added to demolish John Chorley Elementary School and replace it with a parking lot, despite that the construction of the new school does not require Chorley's demolition and without consideration of integrating the historic structure into the proposal or the possibility of Chorley's adaptive reuse. Unless action is taken, John W. Chorley Elementary will be replaced as soon as the 2011-12 school year at an expected cost to the taxpayers of $63.5 million plus the cost of demolition.

About John W. Chorley Elementary School

John W. Chorley Elementary School is Paul Rudolph’s only building designed specifically to the scale of children.  It is an enclosed, internal landscape of open classrooms (referred to as the “continuous progress plan”) naturally lit by saw-tooth clerestory windows reminiscent of the many factory buildings dotting the nearby Hudson River.  The rooms at Chorley sweep into one another, each separated by operable walls, all overseen by teachers' planning centers perched above each of four wings.

Although built for 918 students and situated on a 27-acre site, discrete staggering of the instructional wings along a shifted spine connecting shared program spaces (art, music, guidance, physical education and administration) allow the students to maintain a domestic feel amidst the sprawling composition.

Built of Rudolph's trademark fluted concrete block and designed to reflect the limitless potential of its pupils, each classroom has its own door to the exterior and is open within the wing, allowing teachers the capacity to teach up to eight classes at once.

At its dedication on May 18, 1969 then Superintendent of Schools John L. Krause wrote, "let us hope that forty years hence people will be commenting favorably on the foresight of this community during the '60's."

Now, nearly 41 years later, the school is threatened with demolition.

About John W. Chorley (1888-1954) - the building's namesake

The biography below is excerpted from the dedication brochure of Paul Rudolph’s John W. Chorley Elementary School. It describes the life of the namesake of the school, John W. Chorley (1888-1954)

Directly or indirectly, students at Middletown High School during the period from 1925-1953, and their parents felt the influence of John W. Chorley, teacher, coach, vice principal, summer and adult school principal, counselor and friend.

Mr. Chorley knew no division between theory and practice, between precept and example, between behavior he expected of others and the way he conducted himself.

Whether he was teaching, coaching, counseling, or dealing with a violator of school regulations, Mr. Chorley’s guiding principle was the Golden Rule. He respected the worth of every human being, whether of high or low station, able or limited, obedient or fractious. His extended work with Boy Scouts and YMCA represented a further giving of self because of his love for his fellow man.

In recognition of this modest gentleman’s rare qualities, the Board of Education has designated its newest school the John W. Chorley Elementary School.

Current Efforts to Save John W. Chorley Elementary


To promote its preservation, John W. Chorley Elementary School was added to the 2010 'Seven to Save' list of endangered places in New York by the Preservation League of New York State. The announcement was made during a reception at the Museum of New York January 19, 2010 after the Paul Rudolph Foundation submitted a report to the organization about the planned demolition.

'Seven to Save' is an Endangered Properties Program of the Preservation League of New York State. The Preservation League has highlighted New York's most threatened historic resources through its Seven to Save list since 1999.

The Seven to Save program has mobilized community leaders and decision makers to take action when historic resources are threatened. With this designation, the League provides invaluable technical and legal assistance, increased media coverage and public awareness, and counsels endangered properties to seek new funding sources.

Built in 1964-1969, Chorley Elementary's addition to the 2010 list marks the fourth modern building ever to make the Seven to Save. The application was written and submitted by Sean Khorsandi, Co-Director of the Paul Rudolph Foundation.

The Paul Rudolph Foundation is working with local members of the community and national preservation organizations to stop the demolition of Chorley Elementary, which has been found to be both State and National Register eligible. In addition to raising awareness about the building's history, the Foundation has begun a petition to ask the Middletown school board to reconsider its plans.

The goal of the petition is to have 3,000 signatures - we urgently need your help to see that we can reach this goal!

Please ask the school board to rethink its decision
and save this masterpiece of Modern architecture from the wrecking ball!

SIGN THE PETITION TODAY

To ensure your voice is heard, please be sure to click through both confirmations to see your comments appear on the list of signatures. Please forward this petition to everyone you know who is concerned about the preservation of modern architecture.

More information about the Paul Rudolph Foundation's efforts to save John W. Chorley Elementary from demolition will be posted on this site as available. For more information about the Foundation's efforts to save Chorley, please contact us at information@paulrudolph.org

Drawings of John W. Chorley Elementary School
Floor Plan Bird's-eye Rendering Section Rendering Floor Plan
Ceiling Plan Section Showing Ceiling Colors Typical Fluted Block Fluted Block Detail
Aerial Photographs of John W. Chorley Elementary School
Ceiling Plan Section Showing Ceiling Colors Typical Fluted Block Fluted Block Detail
Historical Photographs of John W. Chorley Elementary School
Chorley Elementary in 1969 Chorley Elementary in 1969 Chorley Elementary in 1969 Chorley Elementary in 1969
Chorley Elementary in 1969 Chorley Elementary in 1969 Chorley Elementary in 1969
Current Exterior Photographs of John W. Chorley Elementary School
Chorley Elementary Exterior Chorley Elementary Exterior Chorley Elementary Exterior Chorley Elementary Exterior
Current Interior Photographs of John W. Chorley Elementary School
Chorley Elementary Interior Chorley Elementary Interior Chorley Elementary Interior Chorley Elementary Interior
Chorley Elementary Interior Chorley Elementary Interior Chorley Elementary Interior Chorley Elementary Interior
Links for more information about John W. Chorley Elementary School

The Paul Rudolph Foundation - dedicated to further the knowledge, preservation and understanding of Paul Rudolph's work in the context of 20th Century architecture and design

 

The Paul Rudolph Foundation Blog - a blog of Paul Rudolph related news maintained by the Paul Rudolph Foundation

 

Paul Rudolph Facebook Page - a facebook page dedicated to Paul Rudolph

 

Paul Rudolph Foundation Facebook Page - The official facebook page of the Paul Rudolph Foundation

 

John W. Chorley Elementary School Flickr Page - A page of current and historical images of John W. Chorley Elementary by Foundation Co-Director Kelvin Dickinson

 

John W. Chorley Elementary School Flickr Page - A page of current images of John W. Chorley Elementary by Foundation Co-Director Sean Khorsandi

 

John W. Chorley Elementary School Flickr Page - A page of current images of John W. Chorley Elementary by Andrei Harwell

 

The Art & Architecture of Paul Rudolph - A flickr group dedicated to images of the work of Paul Rudolph, including many of John W. Chorley Elementary

 

Preservation League of New York State - A group dedicated to the protection of New York's diverse and rich heritage of historic buildings, districts and landscapes

 

Seven to Save Program - a program sponsored by the Preservation League of New York State which has listed John W. Chorley Elementary on its 2010 list

 

 

References for John W. Chorley Elementary

 

Middletown, New York . 1964-1969. In association with Peter Barbone

“Chronological list of works by Paul Rudolph, 1946-1974.” il., plan. Architecture and Urbanism 49 (January 1975): 160.

Cook, John Wesley and Heinrich Klotz. Conversations with Architects. New York: Praeger, 1973. il. pp. 102-104.

“Ecole primaire a Middletown, N.Y.” il., plan, sec. Architecture D’Aujourd’hui 128 (October – November 1966): 8-9.

Gordon, Barclay F., ed. Interior Spaces Designed by Architects. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1974. il., plan, sec. pp. 29-32.

“Implied spaces.” il., sec. Architectural Review 142 (September 1967): 171.

“John Chorley elementary school at Middletown, N.Y.” il., plan, sec. Architettura 15 (December 1969): 530-531.

“John W. Chorley elementary school.” il., plan, sec. Architecture and Urbanism 80 (July 1977): 252-255.

Middletown, Robin. “Disintegration.” sec., elev. Architectural Design 37 (May 1967): 203-204.

“Paul Rudolph’s elaborated spaces: six new projects.” il., plan, sec. Architectural Record 139 (June 1966): 148-150.

Rudolph, Paul. The Architecture of Paul Rudolph. Introduction by Sibyl Moholy-Nagy. New York: Praeger, 1970. il., plan, sec. pp. 178-183.

Paul Rudolph, Dessins D’Architecture. Fribourg: Office du Livre, 1974. sec. pp. 174-175.

“Rudolph.” sec. Architects Journal 160 (4 September 1974): 526-527.

“Site and program generate a new school shape.” il. (pt. col.), plan, sec. Architectural Record 145 (May 1969): 135-140.

For more information, please contact the Foundation via email at information@paulrudolph.org