This November, the Alexander Crummell School on Gallaudet and Kendall Streets NE will mark its 100th birthday. But it’s not really in a position to celebrate. The decaying brick hulk, placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004, has been bereft of students since the late 60s. In a 2000 City Paper cover story, the school’s decline mirrored that of the surrounding neighborhood, Ivy City. Now, there’s no reason you would ever find the building unless you were either looking for it or looking for nothing, as I was this past Sunday, when I stumbled across the abandoned school on a bike ride and struggled to make out “CRUMMELL SCHOOL” underneath all the vegetation growing around it.
In the next few months, however, the building’s fortunes could change: Yesterday, the District issued a request for offers for the building, with the requirement that it be made available for a charter school. It’s unlikely that would be an attractive proposition for any for-profit developer, given that the school itself is only about 20,000 square feet, and will likely take many millions to renovate. It’s also just the latest in a a pile of schools, many of them also historic, that the District closed and is trying to put back into productive use (slideshow coming tomorrow!).
But here’s the Crummell School’s selling point: The entire lot is huge, at nearly 2.5 acres, situated right off New York Avenue NE behind the soon-to-be-developed Hechts Warehouse. According to the request for offers, residents are looking for a community center and “economic development” on the site, which could take the form of new housing, retail, offices, or hell, a laser tag arena. If anything, that’s what will bring this crumbling beauty back to life.