Spence Buys Mystery East 90th Street Lot for $26.1 M.

spence e1317050474542 Spence Buys Mystery East 90th Street Lot for $26.1 M.

The Spence School (Photo from Facebook)

It seems that the Spence School isn’t content reigning as queen of the single-sex private school scene on just one block of East 90th Street. The elite girl’s institution, named one of the top ten prep-schools in America last year, has added substantial property to their Upper East Side empire.

City records show that the school bought a lot at 412 East 90th Street for $26.1 million. The acquisition won’t put the school in the red, however: Forbes claims that the school had an endowment worth over $85 million in 2008.

The newest addition, however, is much further East than the central school buildings. While the school’s main campus is located at 22 East 91st Street, and it also owns a row of properties across the street, the new lot is way over at First Avenue, encroaching on the territory of rival Chapin.

The Observer put in a call to the Spence communications department but has yet to hear back. Oddly enough, the only reference to be found on the lot comes from the school’s Wikipedia page. “On September 16, 2011, the Spence School announced the purchase of a fourth building, a very large space located at 412 East 90th Street, that will become a state of the art physical education facility (with multiple gyms, courts and fields) within the next several years.” No news sources carry any mention of this.

Spence has recently been locked in a conflict with neighborhood locals who object to some of the school’s construction plans. In 2008 Spence purchased the Wanamaker Munn mansion at 17 East 90th Street for $27 million. The school hopes to build a glass atrium connecting the main building to the adjacent townhouse, sheltering students from the dangerous Upper East Side world.

We can’t imagine that the city would sign off on a glass tunnel stretching all those avenue blocks to the new soon-to-be gymnasium, however. Perhaps a fleet of town cars will be on call to bring the girls to sports practice?

The lot was purchased from the Hertz Corporation and seems to include a massive car lot. Perhaps the school will scrap the gym plans and keep the lot as a garage to house the older students’ Jags and Beemers.



  1. Anonymous says:

    “sheltering students from the dangerous Upper East Side world”

    “Perhaps a fleet of town cars will be on call to bring the girls to sports practice?” 

    I know it’s fun and easy to joke about the supposed wealth and sheltered lives of NYC private school girls and their respective schools, but do you know how frustrating it is to read articles about our schools and be hit with these stereotypes left and right? Whether it’s through comments about our wardrobes or in this case the spending habits of the schools, it is impossible to find an article about Spence or Chapin or Brearley, etc. these days without some snarky comment about its students being spoiled. Isn’t enough enough?? 

    Not a day goes by that isn’t positively influenced by my 13 years at Spence and I feel like the wholesome learning experience I gained from my beloved school is so frequently overlooked as people obsess about the fashion choices and spending habits of its attendees. 

    I apologize for this rant, and I don’t mean to single out this one article (I could easily post this comment on about a dozen similar articles on other news sites), but you have to realize how frustrating it is to see Spence – perhaps the most meaningful and influential institution in my life (beyond my home, and perhaps my college) – be the center of media attention for something other than its dynamic and diverse students, its spirited and tight-knit community and its stellar and well-rounded education.

    A frustrated member of the Spence Class of 2010 

  2. Anonymous says:

    It amazes me that you can write for the New York Observer but be so misinformed. Your “inside scoop” on Spence is laden with stereotypes and lacking in facts. The primary job of a journalist is to be objective, which your article is far from. Your ignorance of the TRUE Spence student body, their behaviors and their “modes of transportation” are way off base, and frankly insulting.

    The reality of the Spence community is that it is composed of many people from all economic and demographic segments of our city. Spence is not to be confused as an institution or haven for the spoiled and wealthy. Personally, I walk to school everyday, or get a ride in my moms Honda after the municipal bus picks up my brother. I suggest doing your research better so you can write an informative piece, not a derogatory one. 
    A member of the class of 2014

  3. anonymous says:

    The families I know that have children at Spence are all lovely people, and are far from the ‘rich and spoiled’ stereotype that permeates this piece of so-called journalism.  If you want to discuss a stereotype about Spence that might approach being accurate, you can discuss their incredibly high academic standards.  Perhaps you were rejected when you applied to attend.  And now you have written an article which is your “Mein Kempf” about the school.

  4. No_gnaras says:

    Elise, you clearly harbor some deep conflict with Spence. You should get that checked and don’t let it dumb down your writing. If not, you must be the type that tortures kittens on a daily basis while staring out the window and shaking your fist like the insolent, judgmental outsider you really are.