Military Road School Alumni Association

School Picture


Colonial History – 1730 

vinegar HillsCrystal Springs, an established farm settlement at a crossroads (Rock Creek Road and Milk House Ford Road, now Georgia and Missouri Avenues) in the area that would become Brightwood, from our findings, appears to be the oldest community in the area that becomes the District of Columbia.


Vinegar Hill – 1820

The present-day Ft. Stevens area, bordered by Georgia Avenue, Military Road, and Rock Creek Park, is the historical site of the oldest community of freed Negro slaves within the District of Columbia.

Fort Stevens – 1861 

Fort Stevens

The home and land belonging to Mrs. (Aunt Betty) Thomas, a free Negro woman, was appropriated by the Union Government to build an earthen work fort for the Civil War military defense of the District of Columbia and its three turnpike systems.

Military Road School – 1864 

This school, one of the oldest authorized schools for the education of Negro children began in a former Civil War barracks.  In 1911 the original wood frame school was replaced with the current modern brick school building.  The Military Road School is a designated D.C. historical landmark and is presently being nominated for the national historic registry.

CannonWhen the war clouds enveloped Washington and the Emancipation Proclamation freed the bondman, Washington at once became he mecca for the liberated, and in 1864 some thirty thousand ex-slaves were in the District with perhaps only two thousand under educational guidance. The community of slaves living in the area of Ft. Stevens before, during, and after the Civil War were a proud people—American citizens who wanted to share in the life of the nation to the fullest. 

The Military Road School was born out of slavery. The slaves had limited freedom, but their minds were sharp and eager to pursue life’s treasures. Historical testimony revealed that land for a school to educate black children was freely given by two sisters (The Butler sisters). Descendants from generations, who grew up in Brightwood and attended the Military Road School, learned much of the area’s history that we today can only wish we could have experienced. 

School RoadThe school was named after the road on which it was located. This road, in close proximity to Fort Stevens, was used to transport soldiers and military equipment to and from the Fort.

 The school is listed on the D.C Registry of Historic Sites and is soon to be nominated for national recognition by the Historic Preservation Review Office.




Lightfoot Family House  – 1890

Lightfoot House


This 100-plus year-old Victorian home, which is still occupied by the descendants of Professor George Lightftoot, head of the Classics Department of Howard University Circa 1920, was a gathering place during that period for important writers and academics such as Carter G. Woodson, W.E.B. Dubois, Dr. Kelly Miller, and Dr. Alain Locke.  Current resident Carol Lightfoot Walker attended the Military Road School and is applying for historic designation for the home.