Built in 1931, Lafayette Elementary School accommodated the rapid growth of the suburban community, Chevy Chase. One of several schools of the 1925 five-year plan, this major building campaign intended to relieve overcrowding, but additional population growth projects outpaced the school's construction; it took a decade before sufficient funds were available to build out the entire school by 1942. By virtue of its size, function, and placement, Lafayette became a visual landmark of its neighborhood, as well as a community center.
Lafayette Elementary is one of the most fully realized examples of a model "extensible" school. Extensible schools responsed to demographic changes, fiscal constraints, and architectural challenges of expansion. Developed in the late 1920s by Municipal Architect Albert L. Harris (1869-1934), the idea was to design buildings that would be built out incrementally as the need demanded and funds allowed. Extensible schools were typically built in the Colonial Revival style. Adopted in the 1920s, Colonial Revival reflected the nationwide interest in the country’s early years. Named in honor of the Revolutionary military officer, Marquis de Lafayette, Lafayette Elementary School is a complete example and the largest of the extensible elementary schools.
DC Inventory: May 25, 2017
National Register: March 30, 2018