By Suzanne Davis, Board Member, The Bronxville Historical Conservancy
Feb. 12, 2020: It turns out that LEGOs can teach kids to admire architecture and beauty in their community. That’s exactly what happened to more than 50 families in the Bronxville School gym on Super Bowl Sunday afternoon. Third through sixth-grade students took a closer look at the gables, arches, and columns on Bronxville buildings as they recreated them out of LEGO bricks.
It was the third year that the Bronxville Historical Conservancy (BHC) sponsored the popular event, “Building Bronxville Brick By Brick,” — the brainchild of Stephen Schwartz, an architect and the creator of Building Blocks Workshop.
Schwartz offers similar events in other towns, such as Montclair, NJ, and Westport, CT, as he leads students in building replicas of their communities.
In Bronxville, attendees chose from a carefully curated collection of 60 significant public and private structures.
Schwartz supplied 70,000 multi-colored LEGO bricks in plastic bins, and he challenged the children and their parents to visualize Bronxville in a new way.
The families picked their buildings from a single photograph, and they used their imagination to fill in any blanks. The Kennedy house (Crownlands), the Bronxville Women’s Club, and St. Joseph’s Church were among the many structures chosen for construction.
“It’s a fantastic event that brings the community together. It weaves in historical creativity, and there’s not a screen in sight,” said Rob Rosenberg, who built Bronxville’s Village Hall with his 9-year old daughter, Coco Rosenberg. The Rosenbergs and their mini-municipal building got a surprise visit from its primary occupant, Mayor Mary Marvin.
Meanwhile, the Bond-O’Gorman family came early to snag the historic Hotel Gramatan arcade, which was a massive undertaking. “It’s a cool building,” said 9-year old Jessica O’Gorman.
“I liked seeing it done,” added 9-year old Jack O’Gorman.
After 90 minutes of construction time, the completed structures were carefully transported to a large, scaled map of Bronxville positioned on the gym floor.
After they were photographed and sufficiently admired, Schwartz asked everyone to dismantle the creations and return the LEGOs to the bins, brick by brick.
On the way out, each student received a guided walking tour of the village, and they were encouraged to go on an architectural treasure hunt in the future.
“Building Bronxville Brick By Brick” was organized by BHC board members Mike Heraty, Michelle McBride, Suzanne Davis, and BHC co-founder Marilynn Hill.
Photos by Maria Golingan