1920s-1930s

1921
Little Red School House Founded by Elisabeth Irwin

Little Red School House Founded by Elisabeth Irwin

Elisabeth Irwin founded the Little Red School House in 1921 in the attic room of the P.S. 61 Annex at 535 East 16th Street as an alternative public elementary school. Parents and students loved the new dynamic learning community. It..Read More

1925
First June Camp

First June Camp

From 1925 through the early 1960s, all LREI students spent the month of June in the country. This was called June Camp. LREI continues this tradition with a four-day trip for lower school students we now call the Farm Trip.

1929
LRSH at P.S. 41

LRSH at P.S. 41

The Little Red School House at P.S. 41 on Greenwich Avenue in the heart of the Village opened in February of 1929 with 4 classes: two kindergartens and two first grades, numbering 90 children. Elisabeth Irwin felt the circumstances were..Read More

1932
Roosevelt and Dewey Help LRSH

Roosevelt and Dewey Help LRSH

Upon reading the news, John Dewey fumed publicly that the Board’s decision to eliminate Elisabeth Irwin’s public-private partnership was “reactionary and an outrage.“ Eleanor Roosevelt, then First Lady of New York State, worked behind the scenes to  gain support for..Read More

1932
Board of Education Cuts Funding to LRSH

Board of Education Cuts Funding to LRSH

The Great Depression prompts the New York City Board of Education to announce that it will no longer fund Elisabeth Irwin’s progressive experiment at P.S.41. In the spring of 1932, the Great Depression was hitting every institution in American life..Read More

1932
Parents Save LRSH

Parents Save LRSH

Parents meet at an ice cream parlor on Sixth Avenue and resolve to raise money to continue Little Red School House as an independent school.

1932
Classes begin at 196 Bleecker Street

Classes begin at 196 Bleecker Street

We opened that first fall with five groups of children, from 5 to 9 years old — 161 children in all. The next year we added a 10 year-old group. Each year we added another group, taking all children who..Read More

1932
First Parent Association Meeting

First Parent Association Meeting

The first parent association meeting is held in LRSH’s new building at 196 Bleecker Street.

1934
International Exhibit of Children’s Paintings Benefit

International Exhibit of Children’s Paintings Benefit

In 1934, LRSH organized the first International Exhibition of Children’s Painting at Rockefeller Center, representing work from forty countries. It honored the creativity of children on a scale that had never been imagined before, let alone attempted. Eleanor Roosevelt, the..Read More

1935
Children Experiment with Life

Children Experiment with Life

Students examine farm equipment at June Camp in the 1930s. “Just this, I should say is the task of education today – to change our school from monasteries into laboratories, laboratories not where educators experiment with children but where children..Read More

1937
LRSH Purchases Bleecker Street Building

LRSH Purchases Bleecker Street Building

The Little Red School House purchases 196-198 Bleecker Street from The First Presbyterian Church, who had let the school use the building free of charge until then.

1938

New York State Board of Regents Grants Absolute Charter to LRSH

The Charter permitted LRSH, among many other legal privileges, the right to certify each child’s attendance, the successful fulfillment of the state’s educational requirements and, as a not-for-profit corporation, the right to solicit contributions to support the school’s operations.

1939
Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking

Students work independently, together, and with their teacher in this 1930s science classroom. Critical thinking must involve complete freedom of speech in the classroom. The child is not told what to think but rather is challenged to think straight. An..Read More

1939
Democracy Pamphlet

Democracy Pamphlet

As is promised in LREI’s mission statement, “Students graduate from our diverse community as active participants in our democratic society,…”  Elisabeth Irwin and three of her early colleagues, in the language of the times, shares their thoughts on this important..Read More

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