A Survey of the Historic School Buildings in Georgetown: The Jackson School

Sometimes it seems that there are few children living in Georgetown. While GM has tried to rebut that perception with statistics, it is undeniable that before the late 20th century, there were many more children in Georgetown. What is more proof of that than the presence in Georgetown of no fewer than nine historic school buildings?

They’re there surely, but who but the longest term residents know much about their histories? GM has decided to perform a survey of Georgetown historic schools. He will piece together what information he can find to document the stories of these beautiful buildings (much of the research will come from the wonderful architectural survey performed in 1969 by the US Commission on the Fine Arts and led by Charles Atherton).

First up: GM’s neighbor, the Jackson School.

The Jackson School

The Jackson School
3048 R St.

Built: 1890

Architect: Unknown

Level: Elementary

Current Owner: DC Government

Current Use: Jackson Art Center artists’ studios

Brief Story: The Jackson School was named after Pres. Andrew Jackson. It was built on property originally part of DC Governor Henry Cooke’s (yes we used to have a Governor). Due to a drop in enrollment from 320 to 120, the school was threatened with closure in 1942.  Georgetown parents protested the last minute closure (it was announced just days before the school year) and the school remained open. It housed Georgetown’s war ration board during World War II. In 1965 enrollment dropped again (to 90) and the school was declared “open”, which meant that students from other neighborhoods would be allowed to attend the school (akin to today’s “out of boundary” system).

According to the Post archives, it appears that the Jackson School was closed in 1971 as part of a wider redistricting move.  Attendance was only 96. According to the Post, only 6 of those students were from the neighborhood, the other 90 students were bused in from Anacostia. The students would be assigned to Anthony Hyde School or Fillmore School. If the racial element wasn’t implied enough, the Post made it crystal clear: prior to the reassignment the Hyde and Fillmore student bodies were about 45% White; after the changes Fillmore would be two-thirds Black and Hyde more than 70 percent Black.

And speaking of race, GM was unable to determine whether pre-integration Jackson School was exclusively White, Black or mixed. Given its proximity to Herring Hill, the historically-Black neighborhood centered around P and 27th, it would seem likely that Jackson was a Black school, but that is pure speculation on GM’s part. Anyone know for sure?

While the school closed around 1971, it appears from a 1974 article by a young Jay Matthews that for at least a short period it was being used as part of a special program for deaf or blind students. By 1980, however, the Jackson School had morphed into essentially what it remains today: an artists gallery/studio. That year, in partnership with the Corcoran, an artists co-op called “A-Salon” took over the then empty Jackson School and created the Jackson Arts Center. Initially the building was split up: the Corcoran taught classes in 60% of the space and A-Salon had studios and taught their own classes in the other 40%. At some point the Corcoran moved out and now the whole building is occupied by the artists’ studios. Their popular semi-annual open studios give the public a wonderful opportunity twice a year to poke through the old building and buy some art while we’re at it.

While a school always seems empty if it’s not filled with children, given the alternatives, GM is happy to have a collection of artists toiling away down the block.

The Library of Congress information and the period photos are from the Library of Congress’ American Building Survey located here.



Filed under The Schools of Georgetown

22 responses to “A Survey of the Historic School Buildings in Georgetown: The Jackson School

  1. Pingback: A Survey of the Historic School Buildings in Georgetown: the West Georgetown School «

  2. Pingback: Survey of Historic School Buildings in Georgetown: Hyde School «

  3. Kate Whitmore

    I did extensive research on Georgetown’s schools for “Hyde – A Centennial Celebration – 1907-2007,” a small book published by Anthony Hyde Elementary School (copies available at the school). Georgetown had as many as 12 public schools throughout its history, three of which were razed, and dozens more private or semi-private. I found no records or anecdotal evidence to indicate that, prior to desegregation, Jackson was anything but a white school. Herring Hill is quite a distance away and the neighborhood immediately around Jackson was very much a white neighborhood. Early in the 20th century Georgetown’s declining public school population, as you noted, presented a challenge to all the public schools, black or white. But the fact that they were small schools was in many ways the biggest challenge. As early as 1943, Jackson had formed a partnership with Hyde and with Curtis, Georgetown’s first public school designed by Adolf Cluss and located on ground that is now Hyde’s playground. Both schools shared a principal. In the 60s, a decade after Curtis’ closure and demolition, the partnership included Fillmore School.

    On a more positive note, the re-opening of Addison School on P Street resurrects a partnership dating back to the 1920s: Hyde-Addison. The combined school offers the benefits of a small school with the necessary critical mass of a larger school. And it has saved two beautiful historic schools from demolition or conversion. I am sure you will be commenting on this in a later column. Feel free to email me if you need more information!

  4. Kate Whitmore

    Oops, just saw that you already discussed Hyde and some other schools…I thought this was the first in your series! Still, I hope the comment above sheds some more light on Jackson. KW

  5. GM

    Thank you Kate! I didn’t get your book until recently, but it is fantastic. It will make finishing this series much, much easier.

    Here is a link to the rest of the series so far. I’ve done the Jackson School, the Lancaster School, the Wormley School, the West Georgetown School, and Hyde.

  6. Pingback: Survey of Historic School Buildings in Georgetown: The Phillips School «

  7. James

    Take a look at how these schools compare to other schools in the area at: http://www.homefacts.com/schools.html

  8. Pingback: Hyde-Addison on the Verge of an Historic Shift | The Georgetown Metropolitan

  9. Pingback: Survey of Historic School Buildings in Georgetown: The Fillmore School | The Georgetown Metropolitan

  10. Pingback: Survey of Historic School Buildings in Georgetown: The Corcoran School | The Georgetown Metropolitan

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  13. I went to the Jackson School from 1942 until 1945. We had the fat Miss Waddy in 4th grade and the thin Miss Waddy in 6th. The boys played on the playground, on the right, and the girls on the left. On the way home from school in the spring we all climbed the trees in Montrose park and ate the cherries.

    Wendy Minot
    Santa Barbara CA

  14. tedstod

    I went to Jackson from Sep ’34 to Feb ’39. Had Miss Gaynor in 2nd; Miss Padget in 3rd; Miss Elizabeth Waddy in 4th; Miss Cumpston in 5th; and Miss Louise Waddy in 6th. They were all truly loving teachers. We played “pussy-in-the-corner” in the open gazebo across the street in Montrose Park, which was also great for sledding in the winter. Lots of memories, but one sticks still: the awful smell of the gingko fruit on 30th street in the Spring.

  15. Pingback: Some Things Never Change | The Georgetown Metropolitan

  16. Pingback: Painterly pursuits summon the past | Julie Mollins

  17. I attended Jackson Elementary School starting in 1954 right after Brown vs. Board of Education. Have info.

  18. Kate Whitmore–I am wondering if you know if/where there are any historical archives for the Jackson School, particularly from 1930? I’m not writing an institutional history, but am interested in some correspondence that passed through that school at the time, and don’t know where to turn for archival holdings. Any tips would be a big help! Contact me at albarrej@miamioh.edu

  19. kerlin4321

    I will contact you, thanks!

  20. Pingback: Wormley School Revisited | The Georgetown Metropolitan

  21. Helen Scarr

    I worked as a music teacher at “The Jackson School for the Blind” the summer of 1975, so can tell you it was for blind and visually impaired students, not Deaf students.

  22. Pingback: Adele Tells All…Oh Those Dodson Girls! | Mapping Georgetown

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