Armstrong Manual Training High School, O Street, NW, between 1st and 2nd Streets, NW


Built in 1902, Armstrong was one of two vocational high schools in D.C. authorized by Congress (Armstrong for African-Americans and McKinley for whites).  The 28-room school, designed by the famous white D.C. architect Waddy B. Wood, was intended for 300 students, but served over 700 at its height.  It was named to honor General Samuel Chapman Armstrong (1839-1893), a white commander of an African-American Civil War regiment. 

Principals of Armstrong make an eminent list: Wilson Bruce Evans; Garnett G. Wilkinson, Carter G. Woodson, and Benetta B. Washington.  The school graduated a large number of professional jazz musicians, including Duke Ellington, Billie Eckstein, Charlie Rouse, Rick Henderson, Jimmy Cobb, and John Malachi.

The original building has had three additions.  In 1928, it became Armstrong High School.  In 1946, the course of study changed again and it was renamed Veterans High School.  In 1964, the building housed an adult education center, which operated through 1996.  It is now the Dorothy Height Community Academy Public Charter School, Virginia and Ernest Amos Campus.

Other former African-American schools in this neighborhood included: Langston Elementary School, at 43 P Street NW (now owned by the D.C. Service Corps), John F. Cook Elementary at 30 P Street, and Abby S. Simmons Elementary (later renamed Douglass-Simmons), on Pierce Street and New Jersey Avenue NW.  All were part of the city's largest complex of Negro schools.