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The Chain Bridge Road School was built in 1923 for African American students living in the upper northwest section of the city and in nearby Maryland. The school was the continuation of a long line of educational institutions for blacks in the area dating back to 1865. The earliest one-room, wood-frame school served the children of freed and enslaved persons who settled around Battery Kemble, a Union Army fort built in 1861 in order to protect Chain Bridge. That early structure was replaced by a Colonial Revival style building designed by white Municipal Architect Albert L. Harris. There were four rooms for grades one through six, with an average of 20-25 students per class. The school closed in 1941 and remains as one of the few examples of Washington's rural elementary schools.

During the Civil War (1861-1865), formerly enslaved and free persons settled near Battery Kemble to be near Union camps. It was easy to reach, situated near the narrowest portion of the Potomac River, which separates Washington from Northern Virginia. A community also developed in this area because some white slaveholders who chose to end their participation in slavery gave and sold property there to African Americans, who were able to prosper as truck farmers. The only other remaining black institution in the area is the cemetery of the Union Burial Society of Georgetown.

The building is now privately owned. It was placed on the DC Inventory of Historic Sites in June 2002 and on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003.


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