Roosevelt High School was founded in 1890 as Business High School, then DC’s only institution devoted to instruction in business. The co-educational and segregated school had an itinerant early history until it moved into its first purpose-built home on the 800 block of Rhode Island Avenue NW in 1906. Like the city’s manual training schools, the business program proved a successful model. With increased development and population growth after World War I, the school became crowded and remained so for many years. In 1920, the Board of Education petitioned the District Commissioners to purchase a site on which to build a new and expanded business school. Congress appropriated the necessary funds for the new Business High School in 1926, but the school change from a business to a general high school in an effort by the Board of Education to adopt a more well-rounded, college preparatory curriculum.
As designed and executed, Roosevelt High School is an impressive example of the Colonial Revival style, with a five-part plan consisting of a central pavilion and two side wings connected by single-story arcades. The building is sited facing 13th Street as the street rises in elevation between Upshur and Alison Streets. The central pavilion is a long rectangle with a central projecting gable and a low hipped roof, capped by a wood steeple. The side pavilions, which houses the gymnasium and auditorium, feature projecting two-story porticos.
Between 1977 and 1980, Roosevelt High School was expanded and renovated. In 2016, it was again renovated and enlarged as part of a school modernization program. This 2016 work included the enclosure of the central courtyard to create an atrium, and the construction of an entry foyer on the east side of the gymnasium wing. It also included the restoration of the cupola, and the hyphens.
DC Inventory: September 27, 2018
National Register: December 3, 2018