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Abandoned Old Fourth Ward school, where MLK attended, set for dramatic rebirth

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Plans call for modernized David T. Howard School to serve surging intown population

A three-story brick building.
The school as it appears today.
Google Maps

For more than 40 years, the hallways of the former David T. Howard School in Old Fourth Ward have been quiet. And crumbling.

The building, which was once an elementary school, has stood as a surplus facility since closing as a high school in 1976.

Now, plans are in the works—again—for the building to reopen as a middle school to handle a boom in intown students. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the reborn school will host sixth through eighth-graders in the Grady High School cluster.

With rising student numbers thanks to intown population growth, the old Inman Middle School is no longer large enough to handle the load. Once Howard is reopened as a middle school, Inman will become an elementary school.

Local architecture firms Stevens & Wilkinson and Lord Aeck Sargent are working on the project, which will include the removal of midcentury additions. The historic, circa-1923 core will remain.

Modern additions will be built at the side and rear of the building, with a new entrance inspired by a century-old design that was never executed.

A drawing from 1924 of a front entry that was never constructed.
APS
A proposal for the new entry.
APS

The school is notable for more than its architecture, as it educated a number of local leaders, civil rights icons, and sports legends.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, not only did Martin Luther King Jr. walk the building’s halls, but so did Atlanta’s first African-American mayor Maynard Jackson, Olympic gold medalist Mildred McDaniel Singleton, and NBA icon Walt “Clyde” Frazier.

Renovations are expected to cost more than $50 million. When the building opens in 2020, officials say it will accommodate 1,375 students in 55 classrooms.

A site plan, showing where the existing (orange) and new (blue) parts of the building.
APS

Atlanta Journal-Constitution

223 Perimeter Center Parkway, Dunwoody, GA 30346 404 526 5151

David T. Howard School

551 John Wesley Dobbs Avenue, Atlanta, GA