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broodings from the burrow

April 18, 2008

my d.c.: sumner school
posted by soe 11:17 pm

D.C. has a strong legacy as an African-American city, but in some areas of the city you have to go hunting for the remnants of it.

Sumner School

The Charles Sumner School was built in 1872 as one of three public elementary schools for African American children in the city and graduated its first class five years later.

Named for abolitionist Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner, the building was designed by noted D.C. architect Adolf Cluss. Noted for his use of brick, Cluss also designed Eastern Market; the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Museum and Arts and Industries Building; Foundry Methodist Church; and, possibly, the Marine Corps Barracks. The Sumner School won a design award at the 1873 Vienna Exposition.

Sumner School, which stands at 17th and M streets in Farragut, was built on the site of another school for African Americans, which itself was constructed only in 1866 by the Freedmen’s Bureau. When it opened, Sumner was the city’s most modern school building.

Sumner School from 17th and M

By the the time it closed in 1978, the school had fallen into disrepair and was slated for demolition. A community effort saved the building, and a $5 million renovation allowed it to become the multi-use space it is today. The Sumner School now houses a museum on public education, the archives of the D.C. Public Schools, and meeting space.

Check out the others playing along: Sweetpea, Ms P, Rudi, and Hillary in D.C. and Mia in Frederick, Maryland.

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