Franklin School (Washington, D.C.)

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Franklin School
Franklin School.JPG
Franklin School (Washington, D.C.) is located in Washington, D.C.
Franklin School (Washington, D.C.)
Location 13th and K Sts., NW., Washington, D.C.
Coordinates 38°54′8″N 77°1′47″W / 38.90222°N 77.02972°W / 38.90222; -77.02972Coordinates: 38°54′8″N 77°1′47″W / 38.90222°N 77.02972°W / 38.90222; -77.02972
Built 1865
Architect Cluss, Adolf
Governing body Local
NRHP Reference # 73002085
Significant dates
Added to NRHP April 11, 1973[1]
Designated NHL June 19, 1996[2]

The Franklin School is a building designed by Adolf Cluss, located on Franklin Square at 13th and K Street in Washington, DC.


Built in 1869, the structure is currently unoccupied. Beginning in 2002, the building had been used as a homeless shelter, but the shelter was finally closed in September 2008. The decision to close the shelter remains controversial.[3] [4] It was briefly occupied by protesters associated with the Occupy movement on November 19, 2011[5]

A bust of Benjamin Franklin adorns the building's facade. The building's Great Hall was designed to seat 1,000 people and was a resource for community concerts, exhibitions, and public meetings. Franklin is one of thirteen buildings in Washington, D.C. to receive "interior landmark protection."[6]

In addition to being an admired educational facility, a small plaque on its exterior describes the building's place in the history of telecommunications, noting Alexander Graham Bell's first wireless communication in 1880, where a beam of light was used to transmit a voice message using his newly invented Photophone.[7] Bell's laboratory was nearby on 'L' Street and his work was a pioneering step in optical communications, the forerunner of fiber-optic communication systems which now carry most of the world's telecommunications traffic. Bell was also a well-known educator who taught at a special day school for deaf children,[8] who trained teachers of the deaf, and who additionally created an institution for the study of deafness (also in Washington, DC).

The location of the school in a prominent neighborhood was intended to bring attention to age-graded, separate but equal classrooms for boys and girls.[6] Offices for the Superintendent and the Board of Education were also housed in the Franklin School allowing administrators to see the benefits of the new educational system. The building also used big windows for light, roomy and airy spaces to enhance the learning environment.[9]

The prominence Franklin School enjoyed was highlighted in the 1870s when studied in international expositions held in Vienna, Paris, and Philadelphia.[6] It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1996.[2][10]


  1. ^ Staff (2007-01-23). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ a b "Franklin School". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Retrieved May 10, 2008. 
  3. ^ "Most Endangered Places" (PDF) (Press release). DC Preservation League. May 31, 2007. Retrieved December 4, 2007. 
  4. ^ Harris, Hamil R.; Stewart, Nikita (October 8, 2008). "Barry Delays Bill After Bickering Highlights Council Divide". Washington Post. Retrieved October 20, 2008. 
  5. ^ Klein, Allison; Craig, Tim (November 20, 2011). "Occupy D.C. protesters claim vacant Franklin School". Washington Post. Retrieved November 19, 2011. 
  6. ^ a b c The Coalition for Franklin School
  7. ^ Moeller Jr., G Martin. AIA Guide to the Architecture of Washington, D.C. The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006. Page 151
  8. ^ NPS
  9. ^ DC Preservation League;
  10. ^ Tanya Edwards Beauchamp and Carolyn Pitts (December 31, 1994). "National Historic Landmark Nomination: Franklin School / Benjamin Franklin Schoolhouse" (pdf). National Park Service.  and Accompanying nine photos, exterior and interior, from c.1868, c. 1901, 1903, and 1995 and undated PDF (32 KB)

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