22. 3331 Prospect Street

3331 Prospect Street
Photo by Bob Rives

Wormley School

Born in Washington D.C. on January 16, 1819, James Wormley was the son of free-born citizens Lynch and Mary Wormley. Wormley’s first job was working with his family’s hackney carriage business. Later he owned a successful restaurant and in 1871 the Wormley House hotel. Located near the White House, at the southwest corner of 15th and H Streets Northwest, Wormley House soon became popular among the wealthy and politically prominent in the nation’s capital. In 1862 Georgetown spent $70 on African American education. In 1867, Congress, then under the control of radical republicans, ordered Georgetown to assess and meet the educational needs of its African American community. On July 21, 1871, Wormley led a successful campaign to persuade Congress to fund the first public school for the city’s African Americans. The school, named after Wormley, was built in Georgetown at this address. Despite Congress’s allocation, local politics delayed the opening of the school until 1885 and served to accommodate the African American population west of Wisconsin. The segregated school evoked controversy and plans to move it east of Wisconsin failed, leaving one school serving east of Wisconsin and the other serving student west of Wisconsin. Wormley remained segregated until 1952. James Wormley died on October 18, 1884 in Boston, after an operation for kidney stones at Massachusetts General Hospital. He did not live long enough to see the opening of the school he helped create. The District of Columbia eventually sold the school to Georgetown University and it is now a private luxury condominum.

(Source: Nothing More Powerful: Who DC School Are Named For)