Charles Sumner School

1201 17th Street, NW

Sumner School is one of three post-Civil War black schools and is named in honor of Charles Sumner, a Massachusetts Senator and ardent abolitionist who attempted, unsuccessfully, to ban segregated schools and public facilities in city. Since its construction in 1871-1872, Sumner School has housed a broad spectrum of the developing Black educational opportunities in the city. Sumner School is built on the site of a school constructed in 1866 under the auspices of the Freedmen's Bureau, with lumber salvaged from barracks.

It is one of a series of award-winning, modern public school buildings constructed by the District of Columbia government during a period of intensive municipal improvement which culminated in Alexander R. Shepherd's remarkable transformation of the city in the early 1870s. The architect of the building was Adolph Cluss, whose work had a major visual impact on the city during one of its most significant periods of development and included virtually all of the public buildings constructed by the city government between 1862 and 1876 as well as a large proportion of both federal and private buildings constructed here in the 1860s, 70s and 80s.

The School was awarded the medal for design at the 1873 Vienna Exposition. It served as the headquarters for the Superintendent and Board of Trustees for Colored Public Schools of Washington and Georgetown. It reflects the Second Empire architecture style and was renovated in 1984-1985.

DC designation: November 21, 1978
National Register listing: December 20, 1979

Images

Sumner School, view from southwest, circa 1910

Sumner School, view from southwest, circa 1910

Credit: photographer unknown, from Board of Education Room 1114, Presidential Building View File Details Page

Sumner School, view from southwest, May 1978

Sumner School, view from southwest, May 1978

Credit: William T. Webb, Jr., photographer, from Board of Education Room 1114, Presidential Building View File Details Page

Sumner School, southwest view from above, May 1978

Sumner School, southwest view from above, May 1978

Credit: William T. Webb, Jr., photographer, from Board of Education Room 1114, Presidential Building View File Details Page

Sumner School, tower detail from south, May 1978

Sumner School, tower detail from south, May 1978

Credit: William T. Webb, Jr., photographer, from Board of Education Room 1114, Presidential Building View File Details Page

Sumner School, view from northeast, May 1978

Sumner School, view from northeast, May 1978

Credit: William T. Webb, Jr., photographer, from Board of Education Room 1114, Presidential Building View File Details Page

Sumner School, view from north, May 1978

Sumner School, view from north, May 1978

Credit: William T. Webb, Jr., photographer, from Board of Education Room 1114, Presidential Building View File Details Page

The Charles Sumner School, [between 1980 and 2006]

The Charles Sumner School, [between 1980 and 2006]

Highsmith, Carol M, photographer. The Charles Sumner School, Washington, D.C. [Between 1980 and 2006] Image. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/2011631442/. (Accessed January 03, 2017.) View File Details Page

The Charles Sumner School, [between 1980 and 2006]

The Charles Sumner School, [between 1980 and 2006]

Highsmith, Carol M, photographer. The 1872 Charles Sumner School, Washington, D.C. [Between 1980 and 2006] Image. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/2011635403/. (Accessed January 03, 2017.) View File Details Page

The Charles Sumner School, [between 1980 and 2006]

The Charles Sumner School, [between 1980 and 2006]

Highsmith, Carol M, photographer. Sumner School, named for U.S. Senator Charles Sumner, Washington, D.C. [Between 1980 and 2006] Image. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/2011634655/. (Accessed January 03, 2017.) View File Details Page

Street Address:

1201 17th Street, NW [map]

Cite this Page:

“Charles Sumner School,” DC Historic Sites, accessed July 27, 2017, http://historicsites.dcpreservation.org/items/show/578.
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