Woodrow Wilson High School – Washington DC


In the early years of the New Deal, 1934-1935, Congress funded the construction of the Woodrow Wilson High School through one or more appropriations of around $1 million to the DC Commissioners. At the time, funding and control of the local government in DC was firmly under the control of the federal government.

Municipal architects Albert Harris and Nathan Wyeth were in charge of the design, which is a large Federal style, multi-story, brick building around a central courtyard, with a tower above the main entrance and minimal decoration.

The firm of McCloskey & Co. was hired to do construction. The project was delayed several times by funding confusion, disagreements over school location, and a strike by workers. Yet, despite the problems, Woodrow Wilson High School was ready for new students in September 1935.

In recent years, the school has undergone major renovations.

Situated in the Tenleytown area of the city, the name of the school has been the source of controversy in recent years among local residents, particularly African Americans, who would like to see the school renamed. President Woodrow Wilson was an ardent supporter of Jim Crow who imposed segregation on all federal facilities in Washington DC in the 1910s (which was not overruled until the New Deal in the 1930s).

Woodrow Wilson High School is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Source notes

9,504,106 Budget For Schools Halts Building Program,” Evening Star (Washington, DC), January 4, 1934, p. B-1 (accessed May 16, 2021).

Work Begins Soon On Wilson School,” Evening Star (Washington, DC), March 15, 1934, p. B-1 (accessed May 16, 2021).

Capper Urges End of Budget Rule,” Sunday Star (Washington, DC), March 18, 1934, pp. A-1 and A-2 (accessed May 16, 2021).

$4,500,000 Added To District Bill In Senate Report,” Evening Star (Washington, DC), May 10, 1934, pp. A-1 and A-4 (accessed May 16, 2021).

Delays In School Building Laid To District Officials,” Evening Star (Washington, DC), July 9, 1934, p. B-1 (accessed May 16, 2021).

Contractor Adopts Carpenters’ Terms,” Evening Star (Washington, DC), December 19, 1934, p. B-1 (accessed May 16, 2021).

Forest Hills Group To Hold Banquet,” Sunday Star (Washington, DC), October 27, 1935, p. A-3 (accessed May 16, 2021).

Woodrow Wilson High School,” National Register of Historic Places, National Park Service (accessed May 16, 2021).

School History,” Woodrow Wilson High School (accessed May 16, 2021).

Woodrow Wilson High School,” Wikipedia (accessed May 16, 2021).

DCPS chancellor proposes name change for Woodrow Wilson High School,” WTOP News (Washington, DC), April 20, 2021 (accessed May 16, 2021).

Project originally submitted by Brent McKee on May 19, 2021.
Additional contributions by Richard A Walker.

We welcome contributions of additional information on any New Deal project site.


Location Info

3950 Chesapeake St NW
Washington , DC 20016

Coordinates: 38.95016, -77.07778

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