Judging Buildings About to Get Demolished


Demolition begins this week on the old Bruce-Monroe School (not to be mistaken with the old Bruce School located at Sherman and Kenyon) located at Georgia Ave between Columbia Rd. and Irving St. The building is gigantic. And from what I hear from folks who live near by they are pretty excited about the demo. I hear that it was a high crime area due to the hidden view from the street:


DC MUD reports:

“According to ODMPED Communications Director Sean Madigan, the Mayor’s office will issue an RFP “in the next few weeks” to select a developer to turn the 119,000-s.f. site into what “could include new housing and retail on the site as well as a new school.”

More photos after the jump.





39 Comment

  • I fully support the demo and am hoping that something is done about the crime in the, now former, school yard. It’s bad.

  • Thank God, I live 50 yards away and I’m happy this monstrosity is coming down. I guess it’s way too soon to know what will be replacing it. Hopefully not another wine bar…

  • I’m looking forward to the mountain of rubble that will replace it.

    ….and that’s not sarcasm. I truly AM looking forward to the mountain of rubble that will replace it, at least temporarily. Thereafter, I’ll look forward to the *whatever* that will replace the mountain of rubble. I’ve only noticed a tiny bite taken out of the thing on the north side; destruction could speed up a little, please.

  • Wine bar!

  • i’ve been thinkin about this one long and hard. and i think what the new development needs is a rooftop DOG PARK. seriously though how cool would a roof top dog park be?

  • Picture 2 is the front porch view from yesterday’s GDON Renovated Rowhouse Edition…lovely.

  • Petition to save the basketball courts…

  • What this city needs is a gigantic three-story wine bar. I hope the wine gods are listening!

  • anon 4:24 and 4:31 what about a 3 story wine bar with a dog park on the roof and to make all those community activists out there happy and community center in the basement. Although you have to be careful how you play fetch!

  • This would be a great location for an Arby’s.

  • Always looked like a prison to me. Good riddance.

  • Seems like a waste of money to me, it was a ugly, that’s for sure, but a perfectly functioning school. Why spend all that dough to reinvent the wheel? Oh, I know, so developers can make some money adding retail to an elementary school. Great use of public money.

  • All public schools built during that time looked like prisons (perfect example = Meade in Anne Arundel Co.) – It was great for morale, I tellye.

  • Voice of Raisins:
    Dude, waste equals motion and motion fuels economies built on lies and dreams.

    If companies built stuff “to last”, our empire would fall, permanently. “Planned Obsolescence” is the only thing keeping America running. If politicians “solved things” we wouldn’t need ’em. If cops eliminated robbers, they’d be out of a job. Ergo, wasting money keeps the machine running. CELEBRATE IT, man, ‘cuz one way or another, this great cycle of failure is keeping us all alive.

  • Is there a prison for architectural crimes where we can permanenty house the designer of this building, the infamous New Hamphire pop up disaster, and the FBI building downtown?

  • IntangibleArts, you just blew my mind.

  • Trent Reznor may have a problem with a rooftop dog park.

  • Can I get an IHOP? woot woot!

  • Nice turns of phrase, for reals. But I don’t think keeping this school around or rehabbing it instead of demolishing it would crush the empire. There used to be a time when the idea of having retail on the first floor of an elementary school would be a no-no, no-brainer. Now it’s just accepted that of course people should be able to make a profit off a school reconstruction. Maybe that’s just the times, but I think it’s sad.

  • Wow Matt G, way to bring up the totally random doggie-falling-to-it’s-death factoid.

  • I mean seriously, people want the neighborhood kids to go to fourth grade above an IHOP or Arby’s? Or bar? Or whatever?

  • New2CH, I believe yon Intangible fellow is borrowing rather heavily from one Aldous Huxley.

  • I’ve lived across the street from that school for almost a decade. It was never a “perfectly functioning school,” as Voice of Reason suggests. Instead, it was built with a horrendous open-classroom design (no walls, with multiple classes in each big open room), little natural light, and an HVAC system that never worked properly. It wasn’t a good place for anything constructive to happen, let alone the education of children.

    The playground and basketball court are attractive nuisances that have been home to homicides and multiple crimes throughout the years. The neighborhood is ready to say goodbye to this place.

  • Oh wow, you were serious about that (a school on top of retail.) I thought you were exaggerating. Hmm. Me no likey. But more and more schools, particularly charter schools, are being located in buildings that aren’t totally “school-like.” And then you have a school right near a strip joint on Ga. Ave., which must offer some interesting field trip opportunities.

  • that playground was scary.
    and a bizarre drug market.
    thugs would sit at the top of the stairs, not letting anyone in. you’d go up to the top of the steps and tell em what you wanted. another guy would run to the back and on the other side of a fence they’d get what you wanted.

    it would have been really hard to bust anyone there…. dont know if the cops did or not.
    that was a while ago now, but still. shit hole. must have terrorized the neighbors. at least the students got to watch it all play out. must have been a great education.

  • Some snippets from an April 6, 1974 Washington Post article about the Bruce-Monroe school:

    “Inside ‘learning center 20,’ a vast open classroom on the second floor of the ultra-modern inner city school, about 60 children sat on chairs, sprawled on the floor and stood watching with rapt attention as [a teacher] presented her lesson – by video tape shown on three of the four television sets in the room.”

    “Video taped lessons are nothing unusual at Bruce-Monroe school, Georgia Avenue and Irving Street nw, nor are classrooms without desks, or walls, electronic teaching machines, classes made up of several grade levels or carpeted floors. The school, which opened in September, replaced the Monroe and Bruce elementary schools, the latter of which was built in 1898.”

    “The new school, which looks like a futuristic fortress, with octagonal three-story towers built around a central core, is one of six totally open schools in the city – seven more will open in September.”

    “Despite the fact that the District will have thousands of children in open space schools this fall – and there are another 15 such schools either on the drawing board or under construction – some educators have not yet determined the value of the new schools.”

  • Agreed on the safety and crime issues. But aren’t those issues non-related to the look of the school? If they rebuild the school and it still has a fence and a playground, which most elementary schools do, wouldn’t it still be used for drug dealing/gang activity? I guess it’s possible that having retail would discourage that activity, but it depends on what kind of businesses go in. I still think it’s just not quite right for public money to spent on a school demolition and reconstruction with provisions built in to allow developers, who probably get some sort of tax incentives themselves, to put in for-profit centers on the ground floor. I would rather my kids go to an elementary school that’s just a school, not a school plus a hair salon, or a school plus a restaurant or a school plus a CVS or whatever.

    Now, if it’s just office space going in there, dentists and accountants and what not, I’d have less of a problem with it.

  • create a park with serious green space and a library and/or community center with a coffee/ice cream shop. do it!

  • Some background information: In the last several years before the school was closed the city spent millions of dollars doing upgrades. They had a multi million dollar boiler system put in just a couple of years ago! Then Rhee came and decided to close it down. I know it is ugly and has a whole host of other problems but all those millions are now wasted.

    By the way, last summer Fenty promised to the community, parents and school staff that the old school would be torn down and a new one rebuilt. Now, surprise surprise city officials are saying that a new school “may” be rebuilt.

  • Of course you all would be happy about a school being demolished in order to gentrify a neighborhood even more and push black folks out.

  • John @ 256am–my family are black folks pushing “in” as we close on a house on Irving toward Warder & Park, just a block or so away to the east. We have no problem seeing that building come down. There are fewer school age kids in the District, and they don’t need to be imprisoned in any such structure. It’s symbolic of the time when construction firms that built schools were the same that built jails–low bidders who made still made billions putting up airless shells of concrete over black folks. This at a time when we had so-called heroes in place like Barry, and a self-aggrandizing, yapping at non issues but let the system crumble school board. Yes, we had a majority business community that didn’t give a crap about Georgia Ave, yet there was a minority business community which at the time utterly ignored the investment opportunities, seeking PG Co. instead (thus opneing the way for absentee landlords of a whole UN of ethnicities to plant wig shops and bullet proof carryouts). Thus somehow Bruce-Monroe oddly fit that millieu and aesthetic. (Let’s not forget how Howard U. dropped the ball for the community and Georgia Ave as well…urban universities should be the engine, not the joke, of retail, office and residential redevelopment).

    So good riddance to an empty eyesore. I wish they’d hurry up, as I get a tight sphincter just having to think about walking by it on foot trips to and from Columbia Hgts…

  • Chris Chambers,

    There is a serious problem in this city because developers rule the land. If a new Bruce Monroe school will be built here it will only happen as a public private partnership. So the school has to be smaller in size with a smaller playground so condos and retail can be built. Yes there are less school aged children in DC than in years past but over twenty schools were closed last summer to factor in this decline.

    I completely agree that the building is an eyesore and looks like a jail. The inside was not much better even though through parents activism they were able to get DCPS to build walls instead of keeping it open space and repair aging systems. Why is it that the city can always find the money to build a convention center, baseball stadium and now a convention center hotel plus give away tens of millions to businesses and developers and when it comes time to help poor and low income people all that can be done is throw a few crumbs?

    Do you know the waitlist for public housing is over 10 YEARS?? It has been like this for years and I could go on and on. There is a lot of suffering going on in this city and mostly it is the children who are suffering. If you look at the gap between the rich and the poor in this city it is the widest in the country. We have many health statistics that are similar to that of the poorest third world countries. We have a serious crisis that is only getting worse as homelessness and poverty s increasing because of the economy. I know it may be hard to see this with all of the condos and restaurants opening up.

    This is really more than about tearing down an eyesore. It is an example of the city’s backwards priorities.

  • Why on earth would they build another school there? Enrollment in DC public schools has been and continues to decrease steadily. I can’t imagine that there is a need for Monroe, Park View Elementary (which is maybe 10 blocks away), the newly completed charter school on Georgia Ave, and the Bruce School. Where are the kids to support these schools?

  • Keep in mind that this school had one of the most active, involved and caring parent/teacher/administrator community in all of DC, no small feat for a school east of the park. It never should have been chosen for demolition in the first place. Rehab? Yes. Demo? No.

  • John @ 256am,
    i’m sorry you feel that way, but that seems like a kneejerk reaction.
    what do you think the city should do?

  • Nevertheless–it was our vaunted leaders, many of whom who claimed to be activists or in the corner of black folks, or like Barry, are still worshipped, who sold out to developers. But yet again, development–positive for poor folks (or Central Americans) or slash and burn to build wine bars, hasn’t come to Georgia Ave till lately.

    As a kid I remember the hell that was 14th Street, or Clifton Terrace, etc. Look at it now. Residential gentrification is pretty pointless unless there’s commercial redevelopment as well.

    I’m sorry about the once vibrant PTA–and I mourn the loss of community energy that was long standing, not imported. But the flip side would be that some of those kids were getting older and messing up the neighborhood, so someone dropped the ball down the line. Whether you’re in Col. hghts, Pleasant Plains, LeDroit, Petworth–or anywhere, note that the enclaves where local-raised folks had their acts together, despite poverty, resist gentrification longer. Those that don’t, well…

  • Chris, I”m not saying you are wrong, but you sure are defeatist.

  • I live a block away. The building is a piece of shit. How about affordable “green” housing with an affordable day care center for residents in the area. Perhaps an after school tutoring center/cram school for middle and high schoolers. And a little retail. I know dream on…

  • Gee DCMonkey — why don’t you teel us how you really feel?

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