Today for his survey of historic school buildings in Georgetown, GM sets his sights on the Lancaster School.
The Lancaster School
3126 O St.
Built: Cornerstone laid June, 1811, school opened November 18, 1811
Current Use: Private Residence
The Lancaster school is both a proper name and a descriptive term. A “Lancasterian” school is a school that follows the principals of John Lancaster, who promoted a system of public education based on the one room school house model. In fact, the Lancaster School in Georgetown was the very first public school open to girls and African-Americans in the District.
Like many projects in early nineteenth century Georgetown, Francis Scott Key had his star spangled fingers in the creation of the Lancaster School. Under his encouragement, funds were raised to support the school and enable it to offer free education to poor children (if you could afford it, you paid $10 per year per student).
The first teacher of the Lancaster School was an Englishman named Robert Ould who came from the Borough School of London. The first year he taught a class of over 200 students. Apparently by 1812, the student body was nearly 300.
Unfortunately, GM was unable to track down much else about the Lancaster School after its first couple years. Regardless, being the first public school in D.C. open to girls and African Americans is probably enough of a history for any old school building to be proud of.