Another setback for a creative use of the Franklin School

In July 2012, the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning & Economic Development announced that the Franklin School property was available for development; the project was designated “commercial.”

To the surprise and delight of all those committed to the survival of the historic Franklin School as a public space for culture and education, the city announced it would go with the ideas of a developer (EastBanc Inc.) and a philanthropist and art collector, Dani Levinas, who proposed a mixed use of the building - a contemporary arts space and a fine new restaurant by José Andrés. The new Institute of Contemporary Expression (more at would host temporary and traveling exhibitions in the wonderful spaces of the Franklin School - a kind of Kunsthalle in the long tradition of great cities around the world. Architect Adolf Cluss would have been pleased.

However, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser announced in early February 2015 - without any consultation with the people who had worked for a couple of years on the project - that the city would not go forward with the proposed development.

Reaction to this decision has been negative from those who thought that Mayor Bowser would see the Franklin School project as a visionary way of building on the city’s rich history by demonstrating her new administration’s commitment to Washington as a world-class city - through education, culture, and the arts.

Washington Post editorial 23 February 2015 “Pulling the Plug on Franklin School”

Article in the Washington Post (10 February 2015) about the cancellation of the project: CLICK HERE

Read the opinions of Philip Kennicott, art and architecture critic for the Washington Post at: CLICK HERE (10 February 2015) and a follow-up piece on 17 February 2015: CLICK HERE

For a report from the Washington Business Journal, see:


WAMU’s district reporter, Patrick Madden, has filed an interesting radio story, which you can listen to by CLICKING HERE.

So what’s to be done? Contact the Mayor’s office to ask her to reconsider the latest proposal and to let her know your support for an inventive and creative use of this magnificent building.

Executive Office of the Mayor

1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Suite 316

Washington, DC 20004

You can email Jim Slattery, the Mayor’s Director of Correspondence by clicking here.

or use this form: CLICK HERE FOR FORM

The Institute for Creative Expression has drafted a sample letter - you will find it at their website:

About the Coalition

The Coalition for Franklin School proposes educational and cultural uses for the Historic Franklin School Building, located at 13th and K Streets, NW in downtown Washington, DC.

Exhibition created for the Historical Society of Washington, DC

Click here to sign an e-petition to the Mayor’s Office!

Click here to learn what else you can do!

Mission Statement:

To retain control of Washington’s historic Franklin School as a public building, complete its restoration, and secure its use for educational and/or cultural purposes.

Our immediate goals:

  1. 1.To urge consideration of proposals to use the Franklin School building for cultural, educational, and arts purposes.

2. To request public hearings by the administration and/or Council in which individuals and organizations can voice their proposals and concerns about Franklin’s future use. To our knowledge, there has been no public input process during the city’s stewardship of this building.

3. To expand our coalition of interested individuals and organizations to:

-voice support for the above proposals

-initiate discussions in all appropriate community forums about viable future uses of the Franklin building

-Disseminate information through a website, newsletter, and public programs about Franklin’s history, architectural character, suggested uses, and a list of resource persons to contact

The Coalition for Franklin School

Click here for some ideas about how the Franklin School can be used!

Now available: cards with a with a handsome illustration of the Franklin School building by local artist Keshini Ladduwahetty.

A portion of all sales supports the work of the Coalition for Franklin School.

Order directly from the artist by contacting her at:

photos courtesy Adolf Cluss Project


Educational and cultural use for a great public school building





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Franklin School images on YouTube