Not only is Washington, DC, the national capital and the home of the federal government, but from its beginning the city has also been a center of public and private education. Today, residents and visitors alike can visit several university campuses, and see numerous primary and secondary school buildings throughout the District's neighborhoods. Many of the school buildings, while still serving an educational function, have changed with the city to meet new needs. Other school buildings, like the former Shaw Junior High School and Syphax School, have been repurposed for new uses, such as housing. Especially notable is Franklin School, a National Historic Landmark, which has housed the Planet Word Museum since 2020.
This tour reveals a diversity of social histories, from an era of racial segregation through a period of integration following the U.S. Supreme Court decisions of Bolling v. Sharpe and Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, which called for the desegregation of public schools.
This tour will also illustrate the variety of architectural styles, from the High Victorian Gothic style Healy Building at Georgetown University and Elizabethan style Cardozo High School to the early Modernism of Slowe Elementary School. One stop on the tour recognizes the former Dunbar High School building, which was designed in a Collegiate Gothic style and stood from 1916 to 1977. Dunbar continues to serve students today, but from a building completed in 2013 (the high school's third building). This is just a subset of the many historically-designated educational buildings in the District.
For an additional tour on school buildings, please see "African American Schools" under the Tours tab.