M Street High School

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M Street High School
M Street High School.jpg
M Street High School is located in Washington, D.C.
M Street High School
Location in Washington, D.C.
Location 128 M St., NW
Washington, D.C.
Coordinates 38°54′19″N 77°00′48″W / 38.9054°N 77.0134°W / 38.9054; -77.0134Coordinates: 38°54′19″N 77°00′48″W / 38.9054°N 77.0134°W / 38.9054; -77.0134
Built 1891
Architect Thomas Entwistle
Architectural style Romanesque Revival
NRHP Reference # 86002924[1]
Added to NRHP October 23, 1986

M Street High School, also known as Perry School, is a historic structure located in the Northwest, Washington, D.C. It has been listed on the District of Columbia Inventory of Historic Sites since 1978 and it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986.

History[edit]

The school was founded in 1870 as the Preparatory High School for Negro Youth.[2] Between 1870 and 1891 the school was located in several makeshift locations. In 1890, Congress appropriated $112,000 to build a permanent school and the building on M Street was then designed by Thomas Entwistle from the Office of Building Inspector and built from 1890–1891.

It was one of the nation’s first high schools for African Americans and represents an important development of Washington’s education system. The African American community had to fight for quality education in the city. The dual school system created disparities in facilities, grounds, architectural design and size. However, the school provided a rigorous curriculum and an extraordinary faculty because of the limited professional opportunities for African Americans. Principals at the school included Francis L. Cardozo, Sr., Robert H. Terrell and Anna J. Cooper. Among the many teachers was Carter G. Woodson who taught French, Spanish, English, and history. The school produced a high percentage of college graduates and its alumni included many prominent educators and public figures.[2]

The high school was moved to a new building on a different site in 1916, when it was renamed Dunbar High School after the famous African-American poet Paul Laurence Dunbar.[3]

From 1929 to 1932, the M Street High School building was used to house students from Cardozo High School, In 1932 it became M Street Junior High School, later named Terrell Junior High School. In 1952 it was renamed again as the Leon L. Perry Middle School, named for a principal, supervising principal and school board member of the black school system from 1914-1945. In 1954 the school was integrated.[4] Shortly thereafter it was closed.

The building continued to find new life. In the 1960s it was used as a homeless shelter and food distribution center. In 1978 it was nominated for landmark status. At the time it was slated to be torn down to create a playground for students from nearby Terrell Junior High School, but following the landmark nomination the school board instead decided to preserve it.[5]

In the 1980s the city tried to sell it to developers, but the local community sought to preserve it as a community asset. In 1986 it was placed on the National Register of Historical Places and in 1989, the D.C. school board approved the use of the vacant Perry School for a community service center.[6]

In 1998 the building became home of the Perry School Community Services, Inc, a non-profit health and community service center.[7]

Notable students[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Staff (2009-03-13). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ a b "District of Columbia Inventory of Historic Sites". DC Preservation. Retrieved 2011-11-09. 
  3. ^ "The M Street School, 1896-1916," by Ralph Davis and Dr. Beverly Gordon, 2010
  4. ^ "National Register off Historic Places Inventory—Nomination Form for M Street High School" (PDF). Retrieved 17 June 2016. 
  5. ^ Oman, Anne H. (26 October 1976). "Six D.C. Sites Get Landmark Status". The Washington Post. Retrieved 17 June 2016. 
  6. ^ Elder, Charles (23 February 1989). "Residents of Sursum Corda Hold onto to Dream". The Washington Post. Retrieved 17 June 2016. 
  7. ^ Loose, Cindy (3 December 1998). "A Dream Realized". The Washington Post. Retrieved 17 June 2016.