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Franklin School will become a language museum, open by 2019

Expect the school to be redeveloped into the District’s first interactive museum of words and language

Photo via Wikimedia Commons/AgnosticPreachersKid

Since 2008, the Franklin School located at 925 13th Street NW has been vacant, but soon it will become Planet Word, Washington, D.C.’s first interactive language arts museum and education space.

This Wednesday, the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) announced the plans for the school as well as the selection of Ann B. Friedman and Dantes Partners who will lead the redevelopment.

According to a press release, “Planet Word’s mission is to inspire a love of words and language and increase literacy through a host of interactive exhibits and experiences. Along with the Mundolingua in Paris, Planet Word will be one of just a few fully-operational language museums globally.”

The $30 million redevelopment will utilize the below-grade space of the three-level school in order to expand the usable space into four levels. There will be approximately 15,000 square feet of exhibit space, a 2,000-square-foot auditorium with 150 seats, a 3,500-square-foot restaurant, and a 1,900-square-foot classroom. There will also be a retail, cafe, and event rental space.

The project is expected to generate 35 full-time jobs and welcome nearly 100,000 visitors annually, according to a press release. The delivery is slated for the winter of 2019.

In 1869, the Franklin School was designed by Adolf Cluss, the same architect behind Eastern Market and the Arts and Industries Building. When it was constructed, it served as the flagship building of eight modern urban public school buildings.

On the rooftop of the school in 1880, Alexander Graham Bell tested his invention, the photophone, which allows sound to be transmitted by light waves. The school was later declared a National Historic Landmark in 1996.

In 2002, the building was later used as a homeless shelter that eventually closed in September 2008.