In Washington, D.C. there are roughly 21 schoolhouses built between 1865 and 1930 that are either vacant or dilapidated, while approximately 25 schoolhouses have been adaptively reused into housing, homeless shelters, community centers, a gym, and more.
The reason why there is such a large number of old school buildings in Washington, D.C. is partially because of segregation and changing demographics, reported The Washington Post in an article published in 2004. After slavery in Washington, D.C. was abolished in 1862, a special levy was imposed to pay for new schools and land to build new schools in order to accommodate the influx of African American students, according to an essay written by Gabriela P. Harris in the spring of 2008.
After the 1960s, there was a decrease in school enrollment in the District at the same time that the school system struggled to maintain and find new uses for surplus school properties. By the 1990s, Washington, D.C. was forced to sell its surplus property or close any unused facilities in order to lessen the burden of the city's budget crisis. Because of this timeline, a majority of the schools mapped below were built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and were converted into housing in the early to mid-2000s.
In her essay, Harris wrote that there were D.C. residents who were displeased with the sales of the schools due to them being built with public funds. According to her, "It was, they felt, a disservice to the residents of the District to sell the schools for profit instead of using the space for community activities or low income housing."
Below, you will be able to see all of the schoolhouses in Washington, D.C. that have been converted into housing, from the Pierce School to the Phillips School. In comparison to Curbed's previous map of schoolhouse-to-home conversions published in April 2014, this article will give more context on the history of each property. If there was a school that was left out, be sure to let us know by leaving a comment or emailing our tipline.
[UPDATE 11/18: Franklin School added.]
· Harris, Gabriela P. "Historic Schools in Washington, D.C.: Preserving A Rich Heritage." University of Maryland, College Park. Spring 2008.
· Dennis, Kristen A. Capitol Hill Converted. United States: Xlibris Corporation, 2008. Print.
· UPDATED: Mapping D.C.'s School To Home Conversions [Curbed DC]
· Turning Public Schools Into Private Homes [The Washington Post]