Class of '67 breaks into former high school for reunion tour

By Ethan Andrews | Aug 16, 2017
The former William G. Crosby High School, pictured in 2015.

Belfast — Members of the Crosby High School class of 1967 broke into their alma mater Saturday after arriving for a class reunion walk-through and finding the doors locked.

Peter Clifford was on the first busload of graduates shuttled over from a picnic at City Park. When the front doors to the school wouldn't open, he said, they started looking around.

"We saw a window open a little bit, picked the smallest one in the crew and decided to break in," he said, adding, "I wouldn't classify it as a break in. It was humorous."

Asked how climbing through a window could be classified as anything but a break-in, Clifford demurred. "Yeah, I guess you could actually," he said. "Some of us thought, heck, we've gone into the school after hours in the past."

He was kidding, he noted, then almost immediately took it back. "Not totally kidding, but it was 50 years ago," he said.

Clifford and other alums roamed the hallways looking for their old classrooms — most of them long ago converted to offices or dormitory suites — until they ran into someone who seemed to be connected with the building and said the reunion sounded vaguely familiar.

Of the 130 students in the graduating class of 1967, Clifford said about 60 came back to Belfast for the reunion, along with 20 family members.

Kiril Lazonov, owner of the former Crosby School, was out of town Aug. 12 and learned about the class reunion just 10 minutes before the group arrived at the school.

"When I heard there was three buses coming, I said, wow, that's news to me," he said.

Lozanov said he didn't mind that the group wanted to see the old school, but he wasn't comfortable with the idea of them walking around the building alone. In particular, he noted that some former classrooms on the top floor are now private living spaces.

Within 20 minutes, he was able to get a local helper to the school. As of Aug. 14, he had not returned to Belfast and was still unsure exactly what had transpired over the weekend.

"They got in," he said. "I didn't get much feedback, but I guess they got to see what they wanted to see."

Crosby High School served Belfast and surrounding towns from its construction in 1923 until 1986 then continued as the district's middle school until 1991 when it was permanently closed. National Theater Workshop of the Handicapped bought the building in 1995 and renovated it with dormitory rooms for visiting students of the New York City-based nonprofit's acting program for people with disabilities.

NTWH quietly left Belfast around 2007 and the building stood vacant for almost a decade. Lazonov bought it last year and is now converting it for multiple uses, including shared living and a hostel on the upper floors and a performing arts venue in the former school auditorium.

Comments (1)
Posted by: Virgil Fowles Jr | Aug 18, 2017 15:06

Well I admire the School Spirit, but I hope next year, the 2nd Sat. in August that will break into the Regular Crosby Alumni Reunion @ Belfast Area High School, held in the Art & Band Wing....Contact Mary Gilman 338-5516 for details...

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