October 29 – Jesse Reno School (ONP #302)

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Today’s New Place is brought to us by my friend M, one of my favorite fellow explorers and a big fan of ONP. Knowing that I drive through the Tenleytown neighborhood here in DC often on my way back and forth to the hospital, she shared a few of her favorite places in this neighborhood, where she used to live.

Hence, I discovered the historic Jesse Reno school, a school for African American children built in 1903.

And not only that, through visiting the Jesse Reno school, I learned about a whole community (Reno City), which is now only a ghost of a place, but which was, from the late 19th century to the mid-20th century, a thriving African American neighborhood in Tenleytown.

The Reno School was an important part of that neighborhood and today it one of the only surviving structures of Reno City. Many houses and churches that made up the Reno City community were torn down for DC to build a new water treatment plant and the Deal Middle school–a white school, forcing the black children and community to relocate to other areas of the city to live and learn. The school was closed in 1950.

It’s a sad pattern that I am learning about as I learn more about this city and its places.

Anyway it was great to find this place which I would have never found on my own, as its pretty hidden on a back street you would never drive on unless you have children at Deal Middle School.

And the bigger ONP principle at work here: Friends introduce you to New Places: that is a truism that I have learned over and over again this year. Somebody else’s old place is my New Place and vice versa. And places aren’t ever really just about places anyway. They are about people.