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How Washington Private Schools Have Grown Their Campuses

Photograph by DCMonclova/via iStock.

Last month, Sidwell Friends School announced plans to purchase the Washington Home—an assisted living facility next door to its main campus—for $32.5 million. The move reflected a desire to pull the school’s entire student body under one roof, uniting its high school with its lower grades, which currently meet in Bethesda.

Whether to accommodate more students, unify campuses, or just make way for more space, private schools in DC have made similar land grabs over the past couple decades. Here’s a look back at some of them:

Georgetown Day School, 2014

Last summer, GDS, too, consolidated its campuses. The Grasshoppers purchased both the Safeway and Martens car dealership next door to their Tenleytown location for around $40 million combined. They plan to relocate their lower and middle schools—currently in the Palisades—into the new space. The school tapped Marc Glosserman, managing partner at JBG Companies, to head the redevelopment. He’s a former GDS board member and parent.

Jewish Primary Day School, 2012

To accommodate its growing student body, JPDS spent $3.9 million on a a new campus. The building—now home to its pre-K through first grades—is on 16th Street, Northwest, a few blocks south of its upper school at 16th and Military. JPDS recently got a $20 million donation to add a middle school onto its existing northern campus.

Edmund Burke School, 2006

Nine years ago, Burke paired a neighboring “Hobbes” building with its “Calvin” one on Connecticut Avenue in Cleveland Park. David Sislen, president of Bristol Capitol Properties, says he convinced a man who owned parcels of land west of Burke’s original site to sell him the new property. The building allowed for a new middle school along with a theater, music room, art room, and social hall for students. Sislen, like Glosserman at GDS, was a Burke board member and parent. The school spent $15 million total on the redevelopment.

St. Patrick’s Episcopal Day School, 2004

Philanthropist Betty Casey once planned to turn a large Palisades estate into a regal mansion for DC’s mayor. Instead, a group of St. Patrick’s parents bought it for $25 million. The school now uses this “Foxhall Campus” for its athletic facilities. St Patrick’s also spent $5 million on a 1.5-acre parcel of land in 2008 to add to its Whitehaven Parkway campus.

The Field School, 2002

Field students took classes at neighboring brownstones on Wyoming Avenue until 13 years ago, when the school relocated to an estate previously owned by Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz. Field bought their mansion for around $9 million. The new campus gave the school space to admit more students; it now has 370 middle and high schoolers.

Washington International School, 1998

In the late ’90s, WIS purchased a convent building on Reservoir Road and turned it into its primary school. The building now takes up a whole block and allowed the school to put its pre-K through fifth grades on the same campus. Their middle and upper schools are in Cleveland Park.

Correction: This post originally incorrectly placed Jewish Primary Day School’s new building in Silver Spring.

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Jackson Knapp
Assistant Editor