Anyone who has crossed Dwight’s transom at 18 West 89th Street knows that the gateway to our school is comprised of double hand-forged iron doors that are not only quite heavy but also beautiful to behold. These architectural icons of our campus, named the “School of Spirits” doors, were designed intentionally to be difficult to open.
Each door weighs 1,000 pounds. They were crafted by James Garvey, a Dwight parent (Sara ’95, Constance ’98, and Noah ’99), who is one of the leading metalsmith artists in the world. He wanted students to realize that they need to make an effort to learn, to overcome inertia to enter and excel; and that once inside Dwight’s learning community, they would feel safe.
The ironwork is complex and labor-intensive — and reflects Dwight’s 143-year legacy of merging tradition with innovation. The doors were created using ancient forging methods that originated before the Middle Ages combined with techniques developed in modern times.
Donated to Dwight in 1994 by the artist, our “School of Spirits” doors are again in the spotlight through a current re-crafting project by Mr. Garvey. I am reminded that the ornamental doors mirror the narrative of every child that enters Dwight’s portal. It is the story of overcoming small setbacks as a necessary ingredient to achieve anything of significance. Great teachers, just as the artist who created the “School of Spirits” doors, help to forge students with iron wills and open hearts. Historic and heroic teachers are memorialized in the doors, as they assist children to ascend to become ethical leaders. The doors represent the hopes and dreams we have for our children.
To learn more about Mr. Garvey’s work and the original concept for our “School of Spirits” doors, visit jamesgarvey.net