Brooklyn Training School and Home for Young Girls
|Brooklyn Training School and Home for Young Girls|
|Building Style||Single Building|
The Training School and Home for Girls was the brainchild of Mrs. Phebe Francina Hallock Maine, a Park Slope lady of means, a blue blood descendent of Mayflower stock. Her husband, Malcolm T. Maine, was the head of a prosperous cotton trading company, and a member of the Cotton Exchange. The family was active in Society, Mr. Maine being one of the founding members of the Carlton Club, and one of the oldest members of the Montauk Club. Mrs. Maine’s other interests included the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Science, where she was an active associate member.
Mrs. Maine gathered up some of her friends, and they set about doing something for young women. They rented a house on Schermerhorn Street and in 1889, opened the Training School for Girls. The goal was to both give shelter, and train these young women for jobs in service and housekeeping; giving them a chance for gainful and honest employment. They soon had to rent the house next door, as well. A year later, they had moved yet again, this time to 80 Livingston Street.
The girls were able to dress individually, not in uniforms. No corporal punishment was allowed, and the grounds had room for gardens, lawn games and leisure. By 1893, the School had moved to 14th Street, to larger facilities. There, a weekly club was instituted where music and other entertainment was presented, and after a girl left the School, and went out on her own, she was encouraged to return at any time, and would be welcome to share her experiences with the other girls. They were also encouraged to attend church services, and the school was guided in their operation by many of the goals and principals of the YWCA, which was also charting new ground in women’s social issues.
By 1901, Phebe Maine was no longer in the picture. She was no longer listed on the board, and perhaps retired, or was in ill health. Both she and her husband died in 1907. By 1901, the school had moved around several times, always needing more room, and that year it came to its final resting place: a wood framed house in the newly fashionable St. Marks District, at 1483 Pacific Street, between Brooklyn and Kingston Avenues.
The magistrates and justices of Brooklyn’s court system began looking at the Training School as a girls’ reformatory, and began committing girls there, as far back as 1890. The first girl mentioned in the Brooklyn Eagle was a twelve year old named Josie Springer. By 1915, the Training Home was far too small for the rambling series of wood framed houses it occupied on Pacific Street. The city was on the verge of condemning the property, and a series of fund raisers was held to build a new facility. In 1919, a new, Mission style complex was built, taking up three or four lots on this quiet street.
In 1947, an article in the New York Times listed the Brooklyn Training School as one of the institutions the city would be using in its revamped court system for juvenile delinquents and “emotionally maladjusted pupils in need of rudimentary disciplinary attention.” For the first time, the courts were placing these truant and hard to control students in the hands of a school administrator, not a corrections administrator. It was thought that this would be a more effective way to deal with truancy and other problems before they became criminal problems. It was hoped that positive action in these institutions, of which the Training School was the only facility for girls, would result in helping less fortunate children develop into productive adults.
If that was to be the case, the city didn’t give the program much time at the Brooklyn Training School. In 1949, the school closed. In 2009, the site was chosen for a new charter school, and today, the Uncommon Charter High School welcomes a new generation through its doors.