Black History Month 2024: First Class- Ch. 16 New New School

This year for Black History Month we’ll review chapter by chapter Alison Stewart’s First Class: The Legacy of Dunbar, America’s First Black Public High School. This is more Truxton Circle related then this blog’s previous annual looks at Shaw resident and founder of Negro History Week (later Black history month) Dr. Carter G. Woodson’s Mis-Education of the Negro. As Dunbar High School is located in Truxton Circle currently taking up all of Square 554.

In late 2011 the wheels started moving to create the 3rd Dunbar building. It was supposed to be the complete opposite of the 2nd Dunbar building. That was a success. The old 1970ish building was a Brutalist prison like structure and the new, current building looks like it belongs on a college campus. It is well lit, has lots of glass, open in a good way.

View of Armstrong Parking Lot from Dunbar High School window. Taken April 2018.

One part of the DC government to take credit for this change for the better is the Office of Public Education Facilities Modernization (OPEFM) which was formed in 2007. OPEFM wanted to have a nod to the 1916 building, which there is.  The old building was along 1st St, the 1977 was closer to New Jersey Avenue. The current building is at the corner of 1st and N St NW.

The new building was planned to reflect current values but also make alumni happy. It was planned to be a LEED building. It was in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. There was space for metal detectors… we’re not about to forget about the crime. You kidding, we’re still in Shaw. There were nods to great Dunbar alumni built into the building.

Not mentioned in the chapter was another great change with the new building. O Street was reopened. Dunbar II ate O Street. It was not there. The neighborhood gained some extra street parking. It was good.