The Tunlaw Road School

The first county public school of the District of Columbia was erected in 1865, on the grounds of the present Horace Mann School.

(Other county schools, built 1864-1865, include: Grant Road School, Conduit Road School, and Chain Bridge Road School.)




[Philip L. Brooke] was ever a stanch advocate of the public school system, and early in its history in the District, if not in its very incipiency, he served on the board of trustees. In this capacity he was active in procuring the erection of the first county public school, on land near the present home of C.C. Glover, and contributed in large measure to the erection and furnishing of a domicile for the teacher.

(Washington Times, May 17, 1903, p.4)


The county school burned down in 1874 (and was apparently not considered worth rebuilding). “A public school house in the first district near Ridge Road was destroyed by fire last Monday morning.”  (Georgetown Courier, March 14, 1874. The segment of Ridge Road in question is now Nebraska Avenue.)

After Tunlaw Road was built, in 1882, the charred chimney that marked the ruin of the school was closer to Tunlaw Road than to Ridge Road. A half century later, when Horace Mann School opened on the site of the former county school, the reporter covering the event informed his readers that the 1865 structure “was known as the Tunlaw Road School”, leaving the reader to assume that the road was at least as old as the school.

(Journal of the Columbia Historical Society, vol.48-49:44; vol.53-56:302; “Horace Mann School Site First Used 6 Decades Ago––Citizens of Wesley Heights Celebrate End of Long Battle Over Portables on Site of Civil War Frame Structure”, Washington Post, November 15, 1931, p.M8)


The site of the Tunlaw Road School (marked “D.C. 1a.”) near the intersection of Tunlaw Road and Newark Street. (1903 Baist Real Estate Atlas of Washington)

The site of the Tunlaw Road School (marked “D.C. 1a.”) near the intersection of Tunlaw Road and Newark Street. (1903 Baist Real Estate Atlas of Washington)



 Carlton Fletcher

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