The Franklin School

On Native Land

We gratefully acknowledge the Native peoples on whose ancestral homelands we gather, as well as the diverse and vibrant Native Communities who make their home here today.

Planet Word’s home is in the Franklin School in our nation’s capital. Originally opened in 1869 and completely rehabilitated between 2018 and 2020, the 50,000-square-foot, five-story historic icon is located on Franklin Square at 13th & K streets in Northwest Washington, D.C.

Renowned architect Adolf Cluss designed the Franklin School as the flagship of eight modern urban public school buildings in Washington, D.C. The building served as a model for the modern public school system and offered free education to as many as 900 White boys and girls per year (D.C. schools were segregated at this time).

The Franklin School was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1996. International architectural firm Beyer Blinder Belle was hired by the museum’s founder, Ann B. Friedman, to rehabilitate and restore the building to its original “Modern Renaissance” glory.

A historic discovery

In 1880, inventor Alexander Graham Bell made his first successful transmission of a “photophone” message from the rooftop of the Franklin School to his lab on L Street. The photophone was a vital precursor to today’s wireless and fiber-optic communications, and Bell considered it his most important invention.

  • Did you know?

    The 10 most-used letters in English are E, A, R, I, O, T, N, S, L, and C.
  • Did you know?

    A “deipnosophist” is a person who’s really good at making conversation at the dinner table.
  • Did you know?

    Eels, llamas, and aardvarks, ooh my! In English, there are only four letters that appear as double letters at the beginning of a word: “A,” “E,” “L,” and “O.”
  • How do you get a dog to stop eating your books?

    Take the words right out of its mouth!
  • What's the difference between a cat and a comma?

    A cat has claws at the end of its paws, but a comma’s a pause at the end of a clause.
  • Did you know?

    A “deipnosophist” is a person who’s really good at making conversation at the dinner table.
  • Riddle me this

    What starts with an e, ends with an e, and contains just one letter? (Answer: An envelope!)
  • Riddle me this

    What begins with a t, ends with a t, and has t in it? (Answer: A teapot!)
  • Riddle me this

    What’s in centuries, hours, and years, but not minutes, days, or seconds? (Answer: The letter R!)
  • Quote them on it

    “Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.” — Groucho Marx
  • Quote them on it

    “The past is always tense, the future perfect.” — Zadie Smith
  • Quote them on it

    “If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, you must be the one to write it.” — Toni Morrison
  • Quote them on it

    "If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart." — Nelson Mandela