Preserving DC’s Diverse History – The Jesse Reno School

Preserving DC’s Diverse History – The Jesse Reno School

As a DC native, Principal Ronnie McGhee is particularly interested in projects that help preserve this city’s rich African-American history. Partnering with Quinn Evans Architects, R. McGhee & Associates worked with The District of Columbia’s Department of General Services to provide design services for the renovation of the Jesse Reno School as well as a new addition that would connect Reno with the Alice Deal Middle School.

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Miles Apart Within Yards of Each Other

The National Park Service National Register-Listed wood and stucco Jesse Reno School was built in 1903 as the first school for African Americans living in the Reno City subdivision in the Tenleytown area of Washington, DC. Though the two schools are separated by only a few yards of distance, historically The Reno and Deal schools are separated by miles, culturally and socially. The addition combines the two formerly segregated schools into one unified building as both a physical and cultural link and features an historic exhibit that chronicles the history of Reno City and Tenleytown installed in one wing of the Reno School

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The Reno School and addition accommodates 460 students for the growing Alice Deal School population. With the completion of this project, the Alice Deal Middle School is now approximately 183,000 SqFt with an occupancy of more than 1,200 students.

“Architects have a responsibility and a role to play in defining the character and direction of their communities” says Ronnie, “The role of architect has been expanded to include being a vital community leader and I utilize my preservation-focused architectural practice and position as community advocate to create and guide design decisions that strengthen DC’s communities — especially those communities that have been underserved — to inspire and enliven. My work concentrates on the design of new and adaptive reused schools, libraries, parks, and housing – creating projects that reflect exemplary architecture, neighborhood-preserving design and sustainable construction practices.”

While the neighborhood around the Reno School has certainly changed over the last 100 years, as detailed in this Washington City Paper article, we’re proud to have been able to help maintain and preserve this small yet incredibly important piece of DC’s African-American history.


DSC06335Header Photo: Fort Reno School, 1903