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When the war clouds enveloped Washington and the Emancipation Proclamation freed the bondman, Washington at once became the mecca for the liberated, and in 1864 some thirty thousand ex-slaves were in the District with perhaps only two thousand under educational guidance. In 1864, the Military Road school began in a Fort Stevens army barracks and in 1865, an annex to the school was built. 

Excerpt from A Washington Past and Present, "Public Education in the District of Columbia-1805-1928,


Shared experiences among many students who attended this school substantiate the fact that its heritage became an incentive for the teachers, students, and parents to perpetuate the standard of excellence with each succeeding generation. In tribute to and gratitude for the excellent teaching that challenged students to make a difference in society, the Military Road School Preservation Trust continues to seek avenues to promote the area's historical value and to expose inner-city youth to the basic riches of life associated with the Military Road School's scholarships and  legacy.  


In 1864, the school began in a Fort Stevens army barracks and in 1865, an annex to the school was built. The school was named after the road on which it was located. This road, in close proximity to Fort Stevens, was used to transport soldiers and military equipment to and from the Fort. Historical testimony revealed that two sisters (the Butler sisters) donated the piece of property on which the Military Road School is located, with the provision that the land be used for a school to educate black children. The current structure, a rectangular shaped four-room school building with basement designed by Snowden Ashford, the city's Municipal Architect, was constructed in 1912 by Skinker & Garrett. It was the only school for Negro children in the upper northwest section of the county of Washington, later known as the District of Columbia, for many years. Therefore, children from Silver Spring and Takoma Park, Maryland, also sought an education there from grades 1 through 8.


The  Military Road School building has survived the urban development which continues to alter much of the city's original flavor. On July 23, 1998, the school was designated a historic landmark in the D.C. Inventory of Historic Sites by the Historic Preservation Review Office of Washington, D.C., and on July 25, 2003, it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places by the United States Department of the Interior-National Park Service.

ft stevens.jpg


Fort Stevens is perhaps the most important Fort in the Washington Metropolitan area, but probably the least known. The surrounding community, including the Military Road School, was a very important element in the Union victory over Washington. The Military Road School is still an important element in the interpretation of the history of the Fort Stevens Battlefield, the pre-Civil War African-American community established there, and that community's connection with the Civil War.

The community of slaves living in the area of Ft. Stevens before, during, and after the Civil War was a proud people-American citizens who wanted to share in the life of the nation to the fullest. The Military Road School was born out of slavery. The slaves had limited freedom, but their minds were sharp and eager to pursue life's treasures.

Military Road School Alumni Visit School

 NBC-TV Black History Month Segment 2011

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