A Brief History of the Park View School

Park View Elementary ca. 1965

The origins of the Park View school are as old as the neighborhood it serves. In 1908, the newly formed Park View Citizens’ Association made a successful appeal to the U.S. Congress for funds to purchase land for school purposes. Funds to construct the school, however, were not as forthcoming.

Over the ensuing eight years the community persisted in their need for construction funds. Among citizens’ concerns were that the lack of a school facility forced many children to remain at home, which nullified the truancy law. In 1912, the Park View Citizens’ Association called for an appropriation of $130,000 to build a 16-room school at the corner of Warder and Newton streets.

Thanksgiving celebration in the auditorium of the Park View school, November 1916

Consistently, Congress ignored the communities appeals. While the District Commissioners had included an item for $66,000 to erect a school in Park View in their 1910 and 1911 annual estimates sent to Congress, each time the item was stricken. To illustrate the need of the community by 1912, a school census showed Park View to have 1,193 children. Most were then attending school in Petworth or being accommodated by portable schoolhouses on the site of the proposed school. Ultimately, the community prevailed.

The neighborhood’s next battle was the name of the school. The District Board of Education recommended that the school be named “Lemon G. Hine School” in honor of the former District Commissioner. The citizens, however, wanted the school named after the community. The District Commissioners decided to grant the residents’ request in recognition of the community’s roll and efforts on behalf of the school.

The school opened in October, 1916, to much fanfare and a week of celebration that included the District Commissioners. It was designed by municipal architect Snowden Ashford in the Collegiate Gothic style. The school’s appearance is in keeping with Ashford’s other schools of the period, such as Central (Cardozo) High School (1916) and Eastern High School (1923).

Rear of the Park View school showing portable class rooms ca. 1920 (Image from Library of Congress)

In the ensuing four years, attendance at the school rose from 740 students to 1,037 students, far exceeding the capacity of the building and necessitating the use of three portable classrooms on the playground in the rear of the property. In addition to these portables, the school instituted what was known as the Two-Platoon system to assist with the overcrowding.

The Park View school was the only school in the District to adopt the platoon model. As carried out at the school, twenty classes were grouped into two platoons. Ten classrooms were designated for basic coursework and focused on arithmetic, grammar, history, and writing. The other five rooms were reserved for special subjects such as art, music, and dramatics. The playrooms in the basement were converted into physical training and supervised playrooms. As one platoon (group of students) was engaged in basic education, the other platoon focused on special activities for the first hour and a half in the morning and afternoon, at which time the platoons switched. This allowed the school to function more efficiently.

Eventually, a double addition to the rear north and south of the original structure containing an additional fifteen rooms was completed by 1931. This accommodated the size of the student population at that time.

Park View suffered 817 broken windows in 1964

Reflecting the changing demographics of the neighborhood, the school was transferred from the white division to the black division in 1949. Quality of education remained high at the school over the years, even though the city’s maintenance of the building did not. By 1964, Park View Elementary had the unenviable distinction of being the public school with the most broken windows … 817.

Today, the school supports the combined Park View & Bruce-Monroe school districts as Bruce-Monroe @ Park View. Despite the schools 94 year history of serving the community, its future is uncertain.

Some notable features and events at the school include:

  • The school was considered unique when it opened in that it was designed as a Community Center where the adults of the neighborhood might gather for civic, social, and recreation activities in addition to its school functions.
  • On June 19, 1917, the community elected John G. McGrath to the office of Community Secretary in the school’s auditorium. This was purported to be the first election in the District for a government official since voting rights were stripped in 1874. The office of Community Secretary was paid a salary by the District of Columbia and administrated all community affairs under the Park View Citizens’ Association.
  • The school contained a functioning post office in its lower floor. The post office was dedicated on July 4, 1918.
  • It became the only Platoon school in the District in 1920.
  • As Attorney General, Robert Kennedy visited the school on August 29, 1963, with the message for children to stay in school.
  • Tragedy struck on January 5, 1972, when teacher Margaret L. Brooks was gunned down in front of her students by her ex-husband while teaching class.


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10 Comments on “A Brief History of the Park View School”

  1. Megan Says:

    This is really interesting – I love your historical posts. Thank you.

  2. […] I written about before, the Park View School was built to serve a dual purpose — that of a school and community center. At the time of its […]

  3. […] Rear of the Park View school parkviewdc.wordpress.com […]

  4. […] sign at the Park View School would be a no brainer. There is probably too much history here for one sign to […]

  5. Blanche Moore Says:

    I would love to read history and view photo’s of Park View Elementary that is located on Laurel St. in Shreveport, La. Most interested in the year it was built and what it was like in 1950-1960 period.

    • Charlie Traub Says:

      I was a student there in the second grade in 1958. My aunt worked at the Caddo Baptist Mission Center which was right across the street on Sycamore Avenue.

  6. […] value in the District’s historic resources. And recent restoration efforts, such as those at the Park View School (designed by Municipal Architect Snowden Ashford in 1915) and Cardozo Senior High (by William B. […]

  7. Gwen Caldwell Quickel Says:

    I was in the third grade here !940-41 and my teacher was Lorraine Martin. My boyfriend’s name was Rex Sandifer and my best girlfriend’s name was Jean McDowell. We both lived up the street from the school on Laurel St. She was two years older than me. We moved to Texas August of 1941 and I don’t know what happened to my friends after we moved. I liked Parkview School so much better than Claiborne Elementary where I attended second grade. I enjoyed the history very much.

  8. Richard Simmons Says:

    Richard Simmons: i attended 1-3 grade 52-54? Not really sure but i think so.

  9. Robert Bryant Says:

    I attended Park View Elementary School from 1960-1962. I remember my kindergarten teacher, Ms. Landers. 😊

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