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The Franklin School


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The Franklin School


About the Building    |   Historic Preservation   |   Construction Schedule  

About the Building

Designed by famed architect Adolf Cluss and opened in 1869, the Franklin School was the flagship of the first public schools in Washington, D.C. The school offered free universal education to boys and girls, serving as a model for the modern public school system.

The building’s high ceilings and tall windows fill the interior with natural light, per Cluss’s design. He believed that lots of light and fresh air would be good for students — and now, 150 years later, we know how right he was. Its ornate cast iron detailing, twin grand staircases, and gorgeous red brick exterior make it stand out in limestone-heavy Washington.

a historic discovery

It was at the Franklin School that Alexander Graham Bell made the first wireless voice transmission using his “photophone,” the precursor for today’s wireless and fiberoptic communications.

The Franklin School is only one of thirteen buildings in Washington, D.C., to be given interior landmark protection, and it was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1996.

To learn more about the Franklin School, download the official fact sheet here, or visit our blog.

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The Franklin School is one of only 2,500 National Historic Landmarks in the U.S. and its territories


The Franklin School is one of only 2,500 National Historic Landmarks in the U.S. and its territories


About the Building   |   Historic Preservation   |   Construction Schedule

Historic Preservation

The Franklin School has many historic architectural features that are the subject of careful restoration, rehabilitation, and in some cases, where the original has been damaged beyond repair, replication. The architecture firm Beyer Blinder Belle is renowned for their expertise in restoring, revitalizing, and reusing historic buildings for such institutions as The Smithsonian, Lincoln Center, and Harvard University. This accomplished team is overseeing the preservation and rehabilitation of the Franklin School.

Keep your eye on this page over the coming months for more information about the fascinating history of the Franklin School building and work to preserve its historic features.

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"The Franklin School makes a perfect home for Planet Word"


—Founder Ann Friedman

"The Franklin School makes a perfect home for Planet Word"


—Founder Ann Friedman

About the Building   |   Historic Preservation   |   Construction Schedule

Construction Schedule

The architecture firm Beyer Blinder Belle, contracting company Whiting-Turner, and a project management team at Blake Real Estate is working to ensure that Planet Word will have a safe and beautiful home when it opens in 2020.

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Latest Updates

Neighbors and community members: please check this space for updates on the construction process and opportunities to give us feedback.