The history of Teacher’s Row Part II

Published 4:07 pm Monday, July 1, 2024

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In last week’s column, I shared the history of how Van Norden Street between Second and Fifth Street became historically know as ‘Teacher’s Row.’ I received tremendous feedback from readers and history lovers who wanted to know more about it.

In this week’s column, I apologize for some errors I made, but please first let me explain. My column is due to the WDN Sunday evening. In some cases, I send submit it Monday morning. Last week, working on only two cups of coffee instead of my usual four cups, I mistakenly sent in the draft and not the final copy on Monday morning.

Those errors were: Professor Davis; full name is Alfred Gardner (not Gordon) Davis. Mr. Ollen Augustus Dupree who later became Assistant Principal of P. S. Jones High School, lived at 310 Van Norden Street. He did not live at the Teacherage that was located next door at 312 Van Norden. He taught classes at the Teacherage at 312 Van Norden St and mentored new and prospective teachers.

Little Grove Holiness Church is now located at 312 Van Norden Street on what is considered by some as the ‘Birthplace of Black Teacher Education in Washington, as the Teacherage that was there hosted more teachers than any other in the African American Community.

The Colored Graded School, as it was called during the early 1900’s, was located on Third Street between Van Norden and Gladden Streets. It was no wonder the teacherages houses that were on Van Norden Street were so popular and needed.

Later as what was then known as the ‘Washington Colored School’ moved to Bridge and Seventh Street by 1925, the teacherages on Van Norden Street now stretched from Second Street to Eighth Street.

The Bell family, who included two teachers, Georgia and Lena Bell, lived on Van Norden Street near Eighth Street now opened their homes to new teachers.

Later, Van Norden Street was so well known linked to African American education history, one of Washington’s most well-known and beloved principals, Mr. William H. Beason and his wife Marcella, who was also a teacher, brought a home on Van Norden near Ninth Street Streets, as did several other educators who also brought homes on Van Norden Street.

Mr. Beason began his teaching/administrative career while living in the Giles Ringgold house (the teacherage at Van Norden and Fifth Streets.) The Ringgold’s daughter, Courtney Ringgold (King) also became a teacher. And this is the history of ‘Teacher’s Row.’

Leesa Jones is a Washington native and the co-curator of the Washington Waterfront Underground Railroad Museum.