Today, State Superintendent Dr. Christina Grant joined DC Public School (DCPS) alumni, students and education leaders to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Charles Sumner School, the official museum and archives of DCPS. Built in 1872, the Charles Sumner School was one of the earliest public school buildings in the city for African-American students, serving as an elementary school, a secondary school, and a preparatory school.
“When you enter the Charles Sumner School, you feel an instant connection to generations of DC students, families, teachers, coaches, music directors, support staff, principals, superintendents and partners whose shoulders we stand on today as we write our own chapter in the amazing history of DC public schools,” said State Superintendent Dr. Christina Grant. “When we celebrate this milestone anniversary, we celebrate DC, we celebrate education and we celebrate the school communities, past and present, that have made this city a great place to live. OSSE is proud to honor the spirit of Sumner through our commitment to achieving equitable outcomes for all students, as demonstrated in our 2023-25 strategic plan.”
The museum honors the 150-year history, legacy, and pride of DC’s public education system by highlighting important movements within the city’s education history. In doing so, the Charles Sumner School continues to shine a light on notable and lesser-known shining stars, including teachers, staff, students and alumni. Guests of the sesquicentennial celebration enjoyed museum tours, live music, special presentations, and remarks in honor of the Charles Sumner School for its role in preserving the rich history of DC’s public schools.
“The Charles Sumner School plays a pivotal role in narrating DC Public Schools’ storied history and its time-honored commitment to education,” said Chancellor Lewis D. Ferebee. “As we celebrate the sesquicentennial of the official museum and archives for our school system, I feel so fortunate to have such an invaluable institution in the District. Sumner empowers Washingtonians to reconnect with memories of their youth and will continue to serve as an inspiration for future generations.”
Since its renovation in 1986, the school has served as the official museum and archives for the DC Public Schools system and contains a rich collection detailing the history of public education in Washington, DC, beginning in 1804. The Charles Sumner School was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979 and placed under the stewardship of the Office of the State Superintendent of Education in 2007.
“The Sumner School is one of the first and perhaps the finest structures in the nation erected following the Civil War for the education of the children of the formerly enslaved,” said Sumner School Director Kimberly Springle. “Today, the building exists as a living artifact encompassing all that history and more, serving students, educators and the community at large by providing archival resources, collecting DCPS material culture, and hosting and facilitating education and arts-based programs and functions.”