GM has decided to return today to an old series he hasn’t worked on in over a year: his survey of historic school buildings in Georgetown. Today he turns to one of the last buildings left for him to address: the Corcoran School at 1219 28th St. (not to be confused with the Filmore School at 1801 35th St., which is owned by the Corcoran School of Art).
1219 28th St.
Current Owner: American Road and Transportation Builders Association
The Corcoran School was built in 1889 in east Georgetown to serve the white population. It was named after Thomas Cocoran, who served several terms as mayor of Georgetown between 1808 and 1813 and was father of William Wilson Corcoran, the founder of the Corcoran Gallery.
The school served the Georgetown for sixty-two years. This was a period when much of Georgetown’s now commercial strips were also residential. One poignant story involving a Corcoran student illustrates that. On a Sunday July 13, 1924, Louise Philpot, a 12 year old student of the school, was babysitting four year old Raymond Rose at the stream that was once at the bottom of Wisconsin Ave. Raymond slipped on a log and fell into the Potomac. Louise, who had passed the swimming test at the Georgetown Playground pool, jumped into the water in her Sunday best, swam over to Raymond and fetched him out of the river. She delivered him all muddy back to his home at 1010 Wisconsin Ave. (which is now the location of a large office building). She lived at 3223 M St., which is now the Georgetown Gallery souvenir store.
Like all the other Georgetown elementary schools at the time, the Corcoran School had trouble keeping full as the middle of the 20th century approached. In 1947, the school board decided to close the school. At a meeting in January 1948, though, the board voted to postpone closing the school “until it can be determined if extensive building and remodeling of homes in Georgetown will result in increased school attendance by white children.”
It didn’t, and three years later the school closed.
The building was used as administrative space by the city for the next thirty years until the city tried to auction off the property in 1981. An initial attempt to find bidders was a failure, in part because of the poor economy and in part because most of the property was zoned for residential.
At the time the property extended all the way down to M St. (and in fact the lot still includes the commercial building along M St.) The Citizens Association of Georgetown opposed the proposed sale and encouraged the city to break off the land fronting M St. and retain the historic building.
Ultimately in 1982 the building was finally auctioned off to the Hotel and Restaurant Workers Union for $1.8 million. The union remained in the building until a few years ago when the road builders group moved in (GM’s not actually certain who actually owns the property since the city’s records are blank on that account).
GM has to include one more story from Corcoran’s glory days. In 1926 the Corcoran School “Soccer Ball” team finally won the Georgetown division for the first time in “many years” by beating Addison, Filmore, Jackson and Hyde-Curtis.