Battleground to Community
Brightwood Heritage Trail
6 School Days
The School Building Just Ahead of You Opened In 1912 as the Military Road School, the area's third public elementary for African Americans. For decades it was the only public school serving black children in Upper Northwest and nearby Maryland.
The School gave students "the tools to be successful" recalled Patricia Tyson, a student in the 1950s. Teachers required good behavior, good grammar, and respect for the historic contributions of black Americans. Tyson traveled from Montgomery County, Maryland, to attend. Her father, a military Road school alumnus, paid 62 cents a day for the privilege.
The Italian Renaissance style school, designed by Snowden Ashford, held four classrooms. After the Supreme Court's 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision outlawed school segregation, the Military Road School closed, and many of the students were moved to Brightwood Elementary. In 2003 the Military Road School was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and in 2007 re-opened as the Latin American Montessori Bilingual Public Charter School.
The original portion of Brightwood Elementary, across Missouri Avenue on your left, was built for white children in 1925 in a colonial revival style by noted Washington architect Waddy Wood. Its modern addition opened in 2005. Brightwood Elementary has long helped immigrants adjust to American life. When Leo Vondas arrived from Greece in 1955, the first grader spoke little English. "They took a lot of time after school with me until I got the hang of it," he recalled. Recent waves of Latino immigrants enjoy similar support.
The Queen Anne style house behind you is one of Brightwood's oldest. It was moved back on its lot in 1933 when Military Road (now Missouri Avenue) was widened and straightened. Owner George Lightfoot, a professor of Latin at Howard University from 1891 until 1939, often entertained W.E.B. Du Bois, Carter Woodson, and other African American intellectuals here.