Bassick Scion Urges Preservation Of High School’s Architectural History

E. Webb Bassick IV, oldest survivor of 4 generations of Bassicks with a deep industrial and philanthropic history in Bridgeport, issued this letter to municipal and state officials urging them to preserve the architectural integrity of Bassick High School slated for reconstruction.

I am E. Webb Bassick IV, oldest survivor of 4 generations of Bassicks who have served the Bridgeport community in many ways. I am sure by now you have all had a chance to read the editorial written by former Bridgeport Historian Charles Brivlitch. I believe that it does a good job of providing you with the rich history that lead to the building of the Bassick High School.

Times are certainly different today than they were then. Public schools have become faceless boxes that can be built quickly and are largely sterile. Sometimes the education that goes on in those buildings can become sterile too. Students may miss the opportunity to learn about the prior members of our communities and how they contributed to the building of our towns and culture.

It seems to me that you have the opportunity to recreate the environment that caused my great-grandfather to make his gift to Bridgeport. You have the opportunity to rebuild the Bassick High School into the note-worthy and acclaimed school that it once was. You have the opportunity to declare to the students and teachers of today and of tomorrow that the traditions of their forefathers do matter and that the past should not be wiped out because it may be difficult to preserve. Indeed, it should be preserved because it may be hard.

I believe you all have an obligation to Bridgeport to preserve the important structures of the past for they help to define the community. Can you imagine if Boston tore down structures from colonial times? What if Washington DC tore down buildings built during the Civil War? I understand that not all buildings can be saved or may be worth saving. But time and time again, all around our Country, important buildings that have contributed to our past, that have been a part of our history, have been saved.

I am not an architect, and am not in a position of opining on The Bassick High School from an architectural standpoint. But I understand that those with the proper credentials have commented and are urging that the school be saved and be restored. I ask that you listen to them and I encourage you to preserve an important part of Bridgeport’s history. I ask this for the sake of those who have come before us, some of whom graduated from the High School, and for future generations so that they might learn from their forefathers and understand what their world was like.

You have an important decision in front of you. If you decide to restore the school, that decision can always be undone in the future. But once you decide to replace Bassick High School, that decision is forever, and you can never go back and undo it.

Thank you for your time. I pray that you will make the right decision.

Very truly yours,

E. Webb Bassick IV



  1. One of Bassick’s great, great granddaughter’s lives in Branford. She directed me to her brother that lives in Chicago. Edgar Bassick couldn’t believe anyone would consider demolishing such a beautiful historically relevant building and penned the letter posted above.

    He promised that if the school was preserved that he would fly in his family from Chicago to attend the ribbon-cutting ceremony. How amazing would that be?

  2. Maria, I appreciate all the results you have gotten from your hard work on this.

    Demolishing Bassick would further promote a backward mentality of Urban Renewal from the sixties that has obviously failed
    That monstrosity added in 1967 drastically fouled up the learning environment at Bassick by blocking the grandeur of the original building
    The rite of passage from grade school to high school would be so much more enhanced when the child walks in the front door of the true magnificence of limestone columns, Palladian fanlights and Corinthian capitals.

  3. Good Morning
    Last night at the Budget and Appropriations committees meeting. The committee approved a proposed Amendment for FY 2019-2023 Capital plan budget for approval to fund certain project. One of the items was for Bassick High School. The committee Voted to only go out to bonding for a NEW BASSICK HIGH SCHOOL. What this means is that The City will only go out to bonding for a NEW Bassick High School.

    1. Ernie,
      All three designs are considered a “new Bassick High School”.

      Those who make a decision on the design selected is the state, who will fund between 68-78% of the project, the School Building Committee and the school board.

      The City Council does not participate in the selection of the design.

      Please consider becoming familiar with the state laws that govern school construction projects.

      1. Maria I’m just reporting what came out of committee last night. If The state would like to fund Bassick HS at a 100% so be it. The State nor the Board of Education can tell the City how it can spent it dollars. or its Bonding for capital projects.

        1. Maria remember I served as a state senator and state Rep. so I’m very familiar with state laws govern school construction projects. The State can only tell the City how much the state will fund on school projects 68%-78% Just like the city can’t tell the state how much the state should fund percent’s wish on school projects. The State nor The Board of Education can tell the City on Bridgeport and City Council on what we will bond for, or not bond for. I was just reporting what came out of committee. A Brand New School for Bassick not a renovated ONE!

    2. You see Lord this the problem. Ernie to be honest you were not just reporting. You wanted to burst Maria bubble on her efforts to save this architecture build. It was more about Maria than your effort to report, considering your “reporting skills” 😊 Even a broken clock is right two times a day. Maria it’s somewhat “sad” you are so combative “most” of the time. Ex Ernie, I’m sure you are aware of this but any design that persevere the historical, architecture structure of the old Bassick building will be considered a new School. I’m grateful the city has taken up the efforts to provide its students with a new school, and I hope you, the council, and the city will join our efforts to preserve this city’s rich architecture history destruction for future generation, long pass our time when we depart this world. 😊 On the bright side Maria this is the 21st century and we are only trying to preserve a 100-year-old architectural building. With your free-thinking thoughts. God be the glory. 😊

  4. Ernie, while I’m aware of your many years of public service, I’m certain you’re aware that I served two decades on the City Council and, therefore, know a little about Council Committees and how they work. Your comments regarding the decision made by the B & A committee came across to me as linear and myopic. I’m sure discussion occurred that brought about the decision to fund only a new Bassick. Since I represented the location of Bassick H.S. for a couple of decades, I’m curious as to the outcome of this vote. Do you think you might expound a little as to the reasoning of this outcome? I know you could give the short version to those of us who were not present, yet have an interest. Thanks!!!!!!

    1. Hey, SIS
      Lisa all I can say is the committee felt that a new School would be in the best interest of our city and for Bassick HS, plus the State raised some Questions which i think is in todays paper. The council people from that district made it clear based on speaking with students, teachers and community, a New School is what needed. I must say a lot of things have changed on the State level when it comes to school construction. It was felt by the committee that the City would get a better deal by building a New School than renovating and old building.

  5. Really,Ernie.

    Every reputable study on school renovation/construction promotes renovations over new construction for the following reasons:

    1) It is more cost effective to renovate than build as new which is why the state will reimburse municipalities 78% of renovation projects and only 68% on new construction.

    2) It is “Green” and good for the environment because you do not fill lanfills with TONS of debris

    3) Preserving historic school buildings is valuable to local communities and their identity.

    4) Denolishing the entire Bassick Campus will require the City to bond for an additional $12,000,000 with interest on the backs of the severely overfunded taxpayers of Bridgeport.

    State law requires every municipality to form a school building committee for every school renovation and construction project which also gives them authority over school projects.

    Why would we have a school building committee if the City Council had authority over school projects? DUH!

    There’s more than one way to skin a cat.

  6. Ernie thank you for your response, however, what do you, as an experienced elected official say to the information provided by Maria? I take exception to your comments that the council representatives for the 132nd district are given so much credence especially since they have held office for barely a year, they have no previous municipal experience, no history to draw from, and one of the two is a “ghost.” I’m familiar with courtesy and some times deference given to councilmen and women representing a district in the City, but, this should never be taken as gospel or finility. Was the B&A Committee given the information that was provided in the post by Maria Pereira? What does the State Senator and State Reps for this district have to say? I hope I’m missing something, because on its face this appears to be a hasty, decision made with careless speed by individuals unprepared to comprehend, let alone complete due diligence. My many years as Council have required me to hone the skill of stratigy and facilitation. While you didn’t hold the position as long as I, you get my drift. You have enough experience to give direction to those less experienced. You wanted back my friend, you made it, but with that comes responsibility. Are you up to it?

    1. Lisa
      In all due respect to you this city council as long as i am here will no longer be the tail wagging the DOG! From what i’ve read and heard from the state Bridgeport would get a better bang for it dollar to build new. Maria is the first to say the city council has no say so in how the board of education spends its money. The city has a right to say how it spends it share of what the state said we must bond for.Lisa no i didn’t hold the council presidency as long as you did but i’ve always fought for what i taught was right and i will continue to speak truth to power. Remember no-one gave me a chance of winning my old seat back but the VOTERS DID!

      1. Ernie, you truly have no idea what you are talking about.

        The City Council cannot tell the Board of Education how to spend its appropriation because of state law, not because of what Maria Pereira says.

        I doubt you have had any direct contact with the director of school construction grants and I know you are not intimately involved with Bassick HS because you have not attended a single School Building Committee where the project was discussed. You did not attend a single school board meeting where this was discussed. I honestly don’t remember if you attened the Bassick Forum where the architects made a presentation. However, if you did attend that forum you would know only 4 Bassick parents attended.

        There is no surge by Bassick students, parents, taxpayers, community members, etc. to demolish the original Bassick structure.

        I have spoken with the director personally. Mr. Diamantis told me his team had decided on the hybrid option which was to renovate the original option and demolish and replace the 1968 addition. It was the architects,Larry Schilling and Nick who told the director the original building was falling apart, the auditorium was unusable, the heating system was poor, etc. This was all untrue. All of them are non-Bridgeport residents who made false and inaccurate statements about the original structure.

        I asked Mr.Diamantis to come see this amazing structure for himself and he agreed to do so. Several of us will be touring the building with him.

        I was outside of Bassick HS yesterday speaking with students and staff. When I explained the hybrid option and that the original and new addition would have air conditioning, Smart Boards,all new computers, a new auto shop, a new culinary kitchen, new advanced manufacturing equipment, and more, they had no issue with the hybrid option and many signed our petition.

        The reality is preserving the original building in no way negatively impacts learning. Learning happens inside the building not on the outside.

        People need fact based information in order to make informed decisions. I think it is imperative that elected officials provide that information.

        New Construction means the state lowers its reimbursement rate from 78% to 68% which means Bridgeport taxpayers have to fund the differential which equates to $12,000,000 with interest over a minimum of 20 years.

        This is unnecessary and a burden for the already overtaxed taxpayers of Bridgeport.

        1. Maria First of all I was at the first meeting at Bassick when the 2 gentleman spoke on the different options I sat next to the Superintendent, John Ricc was at that meeting you sat up front. Let me say this you may dictate to the Board of Education but you do not dictate to the City or City Council, until laws are changed that gives the board of education the right to go out to bonding for school. Until than the city council has that right not the Schools building committee nor the board of education has that right. You stated This is unnecessary and a burden for the already overtaxed taxpayers of Bridgeport. You didn’t think about that when the Board of Education hired a Lawyer to challenge the city over 250,000 plus dollar which come to find out the city council gave the board of Education 1.7 million dollars. which I heard 15,000.00 dollars was spent on legal cost. Who paid that Taxpayers!

          1. Ernie,

            As I stated, I was not sure if you were at the Community Forum where the architects reviewed the three design options.

            I don’t “dictate” to anyone. I research everything, I read everything, I prepare questions, and more. That helps place me in a position of knowledge which allows me to articulate a position based on data, studies, the law, facts, and more. Many trust me because they know I do my homework and I am a straight shooter. This allows me to effectively debate the merits or negative aspects on a variety of issues.

            As far as your comments regarding the City meeting its MBR, the City Council voted to appropriate an additional $1,039,000 to the BOE. There was a calculation error in the ECS contribution that both Marlene Siegel and Nestor Nkwo made.

            We have a standing law firm which works on a variety of issues. The Board authorized them to compose a letter to the Mayor & the City Council regarding meeting the MBR. I have no idea how much we were billed for it, however I highly doubt it cost us $15,000.

            In closing, spending $15,000 to obtain $250,000 our 21,000 students are lawfully entitled to would be a very sound investment.

  7. The way I see it. Central was renovated as new, Harding was brand new. So obviously it’s really not about if one is right or wrong. per se. And since more than 2/3 of the school is going to be brand new for a modern inside I can not see not saving the architecture of the old Bassick and creation a new Bassick that complements it architecture history on the out side. JS

      1. Ernie, again it’s not about right or wrong. It’s the value of the buildings. Personally “with the right design, I think it is well worth keeping the grander of the building for the new school. Show me the design. I will say this. When I first tried to go back to school at HCC it was on Barnum Ave. The thought of people calling it a high learning institution was beyond comprehension. Then they renovated the old mall and look at it now. So is it really all about a new vs an old building? This city, officials, allowed a garbage dump on it’s crown jewel, Seaside Park. Decades later they puts some solar panels on top of it and called it an environmental success. I would bet when Bridgeport’s one sky line building, the bank, was being designed there was a call to demolish PT Barnum’s Museum. Bridgeport has history that know other city in the state has, and some would like to whip it out, because that’s the game. Think about it people, or is the 30 piece of silver blinking your eyes. PS bring back the Elephants to the zoo. I would as get some pandas too but China owns them all. HTF do you accomplish something like that. 🙂

  8. Isn’t there some shit brick building with no architecture significance downtown that not being demolish because of it’s historical significant, (OLD) that will several handicap developement on that land. SMBH And then they wounder why this city is the way is it. It’s the Judus’s with in, will to sell it out for thirty pieces of silver.

  9. Maria once again you missed the point i was making. The City offered to pay bills 250,000 for Bd Of Ed. which you didn’t get and the bd has to pay 15,000.00 on legal fees. Please help me understand the BD logic. You are the first to say The City is not helping the Board of Education.I was told how bad you treated Councilwoman Ms Jackson last night. You sure no how to get member of the city council to want to work with the board of education. Ms Jackson has been one of the hardest persons fighting for the Board of Education on the city council. It would be nice if Attyn Lopez would write a story on how the Board of Education has been Dysfunctional for the last 10 years. I am sure your Name would be at the TOP OF THE LIST!

  10. Ernie,

    Let me worry about the 138th District and the two city council members that I asked to run and helped to elect.

    I worked directly with all four of the school principals to develop a strategy to get parents and community members from the 138th District. I donated a $50.00 Gift Card, I phonebanked parents for hours at Thomas Hooker School, I helped arrange for the Nutrition Center to provide beverages and snacks, etc.

    We knocked it out of the park and turned out hundreds of parents, staff and community to the point that attendees could not fit in to the cafeteria and were stagnant outside the cafeteria. That’s called being effective.

    I explained to parents that Mayor Ganim promised to fund our schools if he waa elected. Since elected he has proposed three consecutive budgets without one extra dollar for our children. FACT.

    I let every JFK and Thomas Hooker voter know that Nessah Smith lived 6 blocks from Thomas Hooker School and waa a “no show”. I announced Karen Jackson had arrived late but was here. I could have easily announced that Karen Jackson is the only City Council member with children in the public schools that voted for a budget that gave us 10,000,000 less than we needed and that she voted against a motion to reallocate $1.2 million from the Police OT and a miscellaneous line to the BOE, but I didn’t.

    I will save Nessah’s and Karen’s voting record for doorknocking this summer.

    Karen was given a few minutes to speak and attempted to acknowledge and recognize 138th TC members. I told her you will do no such thing. This is not a partisan or democratic event. Every parent and community member was welcome regardless of political affiliation.

    Tony Barr, Tyreke Bird, Abraham Duque,,Carmen Nieves and Tina Manus tried to stand in front of the room, blocking the very principals who worked hard on this event, as if they had some relevance.

    They didn’t and they don’t.

    This was a Community Conversation regarding the financial condition of the BPS where we discussed the $36,000,000 in cuts in the last three years. We discussed the importance of parents, community members, staff to advocate for funding for their kids and to make sure they register to vote for the upcoming elections.


    I am never worry about meeting with residents or parents because I can articulate and explain my position on any decision I make.

    I gues if there are elected officials who are concerned with meeting with BPS parents and their constiuents it’s because they know they have done wrong by our 21,000 students.

    By the way, I dod recognize Pete Spain as one of three city council members who stood up for our public school children and funding our schools. He received a huge roar and loud applause of appreciation from attendees.

    Judge Lopez chooses to write brilliantly about those topics that are relevant to her. I wish I could say that you write brilliantly but you can’t even spell basic words. Just stating the FACTS.

    1. Hello! It’s nice to meet you too, Maria. As a matter of fact I didn’t even know who you were in person until that night. Your passion for supporting teachers and students is admirable, but as Aresta said to me, “We need to work together.” I was there to support Aresta, actually. I believe in her leadership, as my previous comments recorded in public forum on behalf of the NAACP Education tion Committee will attest. Imagine my surprise to see so many people without children attending! All friends. All caring—Ty, Shawn, Tony—and my former students Gage and Anthony. I’m glad Suzanne from Channel 12 was there too. I actually got stuck up front because I went up to wish her a Merry Christmas. We are friendly and she is a great advocate for fair and accurate reporting. Luckily, we were all there to support Aresta when a speaker began referring to special education classes as “retarded classes.” Instead of arguing on here over other things, can we focus on those comments and how to prevent them in the future? They were hurtful to special education students and families. The speaker’s message was lost once those comments began. So, I’m asking myself, “How can you use your social capital in the community to better prepare speakers from the community so they are heard better?” I hear community organizing is your strength, from what you say. No one can be all things to all people, but supporting parents and helping them to better craft their message-without changing it—might be a fantastic way to prepare for the next events. If you’d like my help, let me know. As chairperson on the NAACP Education Committee, this is where I’d like to work and ensure that when people of color speak, they are heard, not dismissed, and taken seriously. The lack of brown and black teachers speaking was alarming to me. Thank goodness the last two teachers went together as a team. Diversity is strength and it matters more to me than politics. Can we find common ground here? Will you help? What can we do?

      1. To be clear Ms. Manus, we have never met and I would prefer to keep it that way.

        I am sure “people of color” truly appreciate that a white woman from Stratford wants to make sure their comments “are heard” based on your determination and judgement of what is appropriate.

        Bridgeport has the second highest percentage of minority certified staff in CT. Maybe you should focus your attention on moving Stratford to somewhere close to our progress in that specific metric.

        Your assistance is neither needed or wanted. Maybe you should ask the “people of color” in Stratford how you can best assist them.

        Be well.

  11. By the way, someone sent me a screenshot of a post made by Carmen Nieves. This person couldn’t believe she has announced she is running for the school board and was unable to write a properly formed or comprehensive sentence, spell, punctuate, etc.

    He/she said they couldn’t even finish reading it because they felt so embarassed for her.

    If you don’t know each other, Ernie, you should consider getting together. Apparently, you have a lot in common.

    I always say that I won’t start it, but I am more than happy to finish it.

    1. Maria
      You are a legend in your own mind. you may run the board of Education in to the ground but thank God you don’t run this City. Thomas Hooker may be your playground but Maria you run nothing in this city but your mouth,so keep doing what you do best. Just remember Thomas Hooker along cant get you re-elected so keep down your job! (Turning people off)

      1. Ernie,
        You won your democratic primary by 7 votes against a political novice. Had she had a running mate you would have lost.

        Who is really a legend in their own mind?

        I heard even John Ricci.stated at a public WPCA meeting that you needed to stop talking because you were simply grandstanding and repeating yourself.


        Don’t dish it out if you can’t take it.

        1. Maria yes I won the primary by 7 votes I was not the incumbent and did not get the endorsement from the town committee in my district so I primary against 3 individuals. In the General election I was the top Vote getter. How many votes did you win your election by.
          You heard even john Ricc stated at a WPCA meeting that I needed to stop grandstanding and repeating myself? Interesting who grandstands more than you that’s way the Board of Education is in the condition its in, its because of you so please look in the mirror before you state pointing fingers at Others. P.S I had planned on attending Bassick’s meeting tonight but I have informed Superintendent Johnson I didn’t want to be at the Maria Shoe tonight!

          1. Ernie, you claim to be the “Moses of your people”. You should have run as “Moses” because you probably would have blown out your challengers in your primary instead of beating newcomer Wanda Simmons by seven votes.

            The more challengers I have in the 138th District benefits my candidate. My candidate wins with my core voters no matter how many candidates are in the race. All the challengers simply divide the votes I don’t have locked down.

            It’s simply math.

        2. NEWS FLASH Maria!
          I Visited John Ricc yesterday and asked him why he would be discussing WPCA business with you and be talking about me to you. John said he never discussed anything with you about ME. Please Maria get a life! Like i said before YOU are a Legend in your own mind.

          1. Ernie, you are like a toddler.

            I never stated that John Ricci shared his comments at the WPCA meeting with me. Although he has every right to speak with anyone about what occurs at a public meeting.
            I am sure that you are aware that both you and John were not the only two people in the room.

            It definitely happenened though.

  12. The Board of Education has NEVER blown a line item in our Budget by $2.7 million. If a principal, director, or employee ever did they wouldn’t be promoted. I would be urging the superintendent to request their resignation or ask the superintendent to consider termination.

    We believe in accountability and hold staff fully accountable.

    Mayor Ganim and his administration own most members on the City Council, including you.

    Stop posting, Ernie. I don’t think you realize how many readers are embarrassed that you are a former State Senator, State Representative, and City Council President that can’t write simple sentences with correct spelling, punctuation, capitalization, etc. I really am being serious.

  13. Maria you are a Legend in your own MIND! You should focus on your own SINS. A saint you are not, Just remember no one owns me, President LINCOLN Freed Me, Remember. I’m so happy members of the Board of Education VOTED To Build a NEW Bassick H.S. Thanks for the history lesson you gave. I hope you realize you have no support on the Bd of Ed except your one and only puppet. I cant wait to show the people of Bridgeport that you are a hateful person and if you cant control them you turn on them. Maria please worry about the Board of Educations problems and leave the city councils business to US.

    1. Ernie,
      Bassick H.S. is my business. Unlike you, I am actually an elected school board member. In addition, I have been in direct contact with oldest living heir of the Bassick family.

      I am not a puppet, nor have I ever been. I also don’t have any “puppets”.

      President Lincoln did not “free” you because you were never a “slave” unless of course you count your servitude to Mario Testa, Joe Ganim and Ralph Ford.

      Ernie, I have been mentored by the very best, therefore you always have a Plan B. 🙂

      1. Maria
        The 3 Names you mentioned did not support me for City Council and you know that. John Ricc read OIB and said he had no ideal what you where talking about. Maria Bassick is also my business because the city council has to vote on bonding school projects, which you nor the board of ED can do.One thing I will say. You and president Trump have a lot in common because you never no what you are going to get. Him with his tweets and you ,only God knows.

        1. Your grammar is just so horrific. Here are just a few examples related to your most recent post”

          1)It should be Maria followed by a comma

          2) Names should bot be capitalized.

          3) It’s not ideal, it is idea.

          4)It’s not where, it’s were.

          5) Once again, Maria should be followed by a comma

          6) It should read board of Ed.

          7) It should read ” one thing I will say is both you and President Trump…”

          8) It is not no, it is know.

          9) The last sentence is simply a mess.

          By the way, his name is John Ricci. You keep spelling it incorrectly.

          The college you attended will never highlight you as an example of the education they provide to their students.

    2. The Director of School Construction Grants made it absolutely clear that there was nothing to vote on, yet John Weldon orchestrated a vote with his,”puppets”.

      It doesn’t take courage to follow the many. It takes courage to stand alone. I have no difficulty taking a different position as long as it well researched, rooted in facts, and is the right thing to do.


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