The Bayard Rustin Educational Campus is located at West 18th Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City, is a “vertical campus” of the New York City Department of Education which contains a number of small public schools, most of them high schools — grades 9 through 12 – along with one combined middle and high school – grades 6 through 12.The building formerly housed Bayard Rustin High School for the Humanities (M440), a comprehensive school which graduated its last class in the 2011-2012 school year.
The building – which is actually two buildings, one on 18th Street and the other on 19th Street, connected in the middle – was constructed in 1930 as Textile High School, a vocational high school for the textile trades, complete with a textile mill in the basement; the school yearbook was titled The Loom. It was later renamed Straubenmuller Textile High School after the vocational education pioneer Gustave Straubenmuller, then renamed Charles Evans Hughes High School after Governor of New York and U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes.
The school was shut down in 1981, and reopened in 1983 as the High School for the Humanities with a revamped curriculum focusing on English and the humanities. It was later renamed the Bayard Rustin High School for the Humanities after civil rights activist Bayard Rustin.
By 2005, the school building had already begun to host other, smaller public school entities in addition to the comprehensive high school. In the 2012-2013 school year, there were six schools in the facility:
- Quest to Learn (M422)
- Hudson High School of Learning Technologies (M437)
- Humanities Preparatory Academy (M605)
- James Baldwin School (M313)
- Landmark High School (M419)
- Manhattan Business Academy (M392)
With the exception of Quest to Learn (Q2L), all of the schools are high schools. Q2L, which moved into the building just before the 2010-2011 school year, serves grade 6-12.
The original upper floors were well-appointed, with marble-lined hallways, stained glass windows, and wood-paneled offices. In 1934–35, the Work Projects Administration’s Federal Arts Project decorated the schools with murals, some created by artist Jacques Van Aalten; but muralist Jean Charlot was also called in to oversee the work already in progress of art students – including Abraham Lishinsky – titled The Art Contribution to Civilization of All Nations and Countries. He himself painted a central niche, which he named Head, Crowned with Laurels; this latter was overpainted after the completion of the mural, and Charlot listed the mural as “destroyed” in catalogs of his work. It was restored by the Adopt-A-Mural Program, with mural restoration completed in 1995. It is now an interior architectural landmark. In 1999 a theatrical lighting system and rigging renovation for the school auditorium was completed with the help of PENCIL, Public Education Needs Civic Involvement in Learning.
The building also features a swimming pool, which was expected to be refurbished and returned to service as of the 2010–2011 academic year, but did not return to service until the 2012-13 school year. The pool is now being used by the schools for recreation as well as a lifeguard training program.