Joel Elias Spingarn Senior High School
SpingarnHS DC.jpg
Spingarn Senior High School located in the Carver Langston neighborhood of Washington, D.C.
2500 Benning Road Northeast[1]


United States
School typePublic high school
School districtDistrict of Columbia Public Schools
Grades9 to 12
Campus typeUrban
Color(s)  Green
  Vegas gold
MascotMighty Green Wave

Joel Elias Spingarn High School was a public high school located in the District of Columbia, USA. The school is named after Joel Elias Spingarn (1875–1939) an American educator and literary critic who established the Spingarn Medal in 1913, awarded annually for outstanding achievement by an African American.


Spingarn High School opened in 1952, as a new and modern segregated high school for African American students. It was the last segregated high school built in Washington, DC, just two years before the U.S. Supreme Court ended school segregation in Brown v. Board of Education.[2]

The formal dedication ceremonies in December 1953 were attended by Joel Spingarn's widow, Amy Spingarn, and by Spingarn Medal winners Paul Robeson and W. E. B. Du Bois. The principal speaker at the dedication was Howard University professor John Hope Franklin.[3][4]

Dr. Purvis J. Wiliams was the first principal and served until 1971. Under his leadership, Spingarn gained a reputation as one of the top black schools in the district. Spingarn's enrollment was around 1500 students, who were almost entirely black even after desegregation.[2][5][6]

Woodson Junior High School students were housed in Spingarn High School from 1962 to 1963.[7]

Spingarn High School closed at the end of the 2012-13 school year due to low enrollment which had dropped to 374 students that year.[2][8][9]

In May 2014, the school was added to the National Register of Historic Places.[10]

Basketball teams

Spingarn High School had one of DC's most impressive basketball histories and has produced well-known players such as Elgin Baylor, Dave Bing and Sherman Douglas. Spingarn has played in more City Title games than all but one DC public school and won in 1961, 1980, 1985 and 2000. The school has also played in nine DCIAA title games and won consecutively for three years between 2000 and 2003.[11][12][13]

Notable alumni


  1. ^ "GNIS entry for Spingarn Senior High School". USGS. January 16, 2008.
  2. ^ a b c Fenston, Jacob (February 1, 2019). "Spingarn High Students, Alums Brace For School's Closure". WAMU.
  3. ^ "Segregation Rapped at Spingarn Dedication". Washington Evening Star. December 12, 1953. p. 35.
  4. ^ "Robeson Plans To Be School's 'Silent' Guest". The Washington Post. December 11, 1953. p. 39.
  5. ^ "Dr. Purvis J. Williams honored at Spingarn High School". The Washington Afro-American. January 24, 2004.
  6. ^ Rogers, Jeanne (May 19, 1957). "Spingarn, Newest High School, Mirrors Changing Community". The Washington Post. p. A15.
  7. ^ DC Public Schools "Public School Buildings-Past and Present" MS, revised June 1972. Retrieved from Charles Sumner School Museum and Archives
  8. ^ "Book Closes on Spingarn High School". AFRO. June 26, 2013.
  9. ^ "Spingarn Senior High School (Closed 2014) (2022 Ranking) | Washington, DC".
  10. ^ "Spingarn High School". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. Retrieved 5 March 2020.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g McKenna, Dave (March 5, 1999). "The Next Wave". Washington City Paper.
  12. ^ a b c d Evans, Judith (January 23, 2004). "Spingarn High's Title Wave Running Dry". Washington Post.
  13. ^ a b c d e f g Stubbs, Roman (February 13, 2013). "As D.C.'s Spingarn High prepares to close, a rich basketball tradition is left behind". The Washington Post.
  14. ^ Sun, Lena H. (September 24, 2009). "D.C. Area Transit Chief Facing 'the Test of His Life'". The Washington Post. p. A1.
  15. ^ Smith, J.Y. (August 6, 1989). "John R. Kinard, Director of Anacostia Museum, Dies". The Washington Post.
  16. ^ Huff, Donald (June 9, 1981). "The Wait, the Wondering: Former Area Picks Play On". The Washington Post.
  17. ^ Dinsdale, Nathan. "Basketball Great Takes His Place Among Torero Legends". USD Magazine. No. Spring 2010. University of San Diego.
  18. ^ "Catholic Inducts Hall of Fame Class of 2018". Catholic Athletics. The Catholic University of America. February 7, 2018.
  19. ^ "For the Record". The Washington Post. December 2, 1987. p. D2. Temple -- Announced that senior TE Mike Hinnant, former standout at Spingarn High School, was named to Associated Press All-East football team.

Coordinates: 38°53′58.3″N 76°58′15.3″W / 38.899528°N 76.970917°W / 38.899528; -76.970917