Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser celebrated Monday the start of renovations to transform the historic Thaddeus Stevens Elementary School in Ward 2 into a D.C. Public Schools Early Childhood Education Center that will offer pre-K3 and -K4 classes and a child care center for infants and toddlers.

An adjacent parcel — the soon-to-be Stevens Place — will feature a new 190,000-square-foot commercial office building with underground parking.

“With this project, we’re delivering on our commitment to expand access to early child care,” said Bowser, who was joined at the groundbreaking by several local school, community and political officials. “Together, we are giving new life to an important historic landmark, moving forward a long-stalled project, and creating a much-needed resource for our community.”

As one of the District’s first public schools built for the education of African-American children, Stevens School, designated as a national historic landmark in 2001 — has played a significant role in the District’s past. Constructed in 1868, the school was named after Thaddeus Stevens, a Pennsylvania Congressman and abolitionist. The building will reopen for the 2020-2021 school year.

“We are breathing new life into the historic Thaddeus Stevens Elementary School after 19 years of collaboration — that is something to celebrate,” Brian Kenner, D.C. deputy mayor planning and economic development, said of the revamped facility that will be managed by a community-based organization. “It will welcome new children for years to come and continue to be a city icon.”

Last summer, as part of the Bowser administration’s increased efforts to expand access to affordable child care, the mayor announced plans to reopen the school as an early child care center. Over the past year, the administration has made critical progress in support of D.C.’s youngest learners.

Matt Klein, president of Akridge Real Estate services in northwest D.C., said his organization is proud of its role in the renovation project which includes the adjacent Stevens Place at 2100 L Street.

“We are eager to strengthen our commitment to the community through both buildings and look forward to delivering a sophisticated and efficient building at 2100 L Street,” Akridge said.

Stevens Place, which is being designed by Martinez & Johnson Architecture, will include a rotating art gallery of works from African-American artists as well as a statue outside the building and a feature wall commemorating Thaddeus Stevens.

Additionally, Stevens Place will provide various community benefits, including a college scholarship program for District students and programming that will expose students to real estate development and construction.

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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