Elizabeth G. Randall Junior High School (Cardozo School)

Built in 1906, the Randall School represents an important era in African American education and now houses the Rubell Museum.

Established in 1906 as Cardozo Elementary School, the building became the home of Elizabeth G. Randall Junior High School in 1927, and was repeatedly expanded to meet the educational needs of Southwest DC’s African American community. Originally named the Francis L. Cardozo Elementary School, after the celebrated African American educator (1836-1907), the school adhered to the policy of racial and gender segregation in the District of Columbia school system.

In 1927, the newly-established Randall Junior High School switched places with Cardozo Elementary School in a strategic move to accommodate its growing student body, and two wings (east and west) were constructed. Designed by Municipal Architect L. Harris, the wings added space for classrooms and a combined auditorium and gymnasium. This expansion was part of the nationwide trend in the 1920s to convert elementary schools to junior high schools.

Randall Junior High School stands as one of the few extant buildings associated with the pre-urban renewal history of Southwest Washington. The original building and its 1927 wings illustrate an important aspect of the history of African American education. The school is an excellent example of a 20th-century African American school that continuously served the community of Southwest Washington during its years of operation. Additionally, the building serves as a reminder of the cultural and social role that schools played in the 20th-century development of African American communities. The building not only exemplifies early design standards for school buildings, but it also reflects the transition in the school system from elementary to junior high schools.

From the early-1980s to the mid-2000s, the former school was used as a city men's shelter and as a community/arts space. The former Corcoran Gallery of Art owned the one-time school building for a number of years, starting in 2006.

In October 2022, the Rubell Museum opened in the building's center portion and east wing. One of the contemporary art museum's initial exhibitions is What's Going On, a nod to Washingtonian Marvin Gaye, as the famous musician once attended Randall. The museum's opening followed an extensive restoration of the historic building's features. Additionally, new housing was constructed north of the former school building. This is the second private museum founded by the Rubell family — the other being in Miami.

DC Inventory: March 22, 2007
National Register: December 22, 2008



65 I Street, SW