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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Greenbelt in Prince George's County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Community Center

 
 
Community Center Marker image. Click for full size.
By Tom Fuchs, 2006
1. Community Center Marker
Inscription. The Greenbelt Community Center, originally the Greenbelt Center Elementary School and Community Building, was completed in the autumn of 1937, just in time for Greenbelt’s first occupants. From the beginning, residents also used the buildings for meetings, adult education classes, recreation, clubs and sports teams, a town hall, library, and church services.

Greenbelt’s principle architects, Douglas D. Ellington and Reginald Wadsworth, designed the building in a streamlined Art Deco style. The glass blocks used in the stairwells for light, the streamlined inverted buttresses or cantilevered struts, and the four Indiana Limestone friezes on the facade are decorative elements typical of this style.

As the number of students grew, the building also grew with a new wing added onto the building’s north side (just visible on the left side of the Community Center) in 1967. By 1990, however, the building was inadequate to the school’s needs. In the face of proposals either to tear the building down or to rebuild it according to
We The People frieze image. Click for full size.
By Tom Fuchs, January 12, 2008
2. We The People frieze
This was taken with Ektachrome E100GX film.
modern school standards, the building closed as a school in 1993. Greenbelt Elementary School relocated to a new facility on the north end of Ridge Road.

In March 1996, this renovated building reopened as a dedicated community center. The building continues to play a central role in the community as a meeting and recreational facility for all age groups including: a nursery school, an adult day-care center, a pottery studio, adult and children’s art studio, private artists’ studios, the Greenbelt Museum’s exhibit room, the Greenbelt News Review’s office, a public access television studio, a summer camp facility, and an auditorium/gymnasium.

A forested green space once surrounded the Community Center. The public library to your immediate left was built in 1970. Originally is was housed in a classroom inside the former school and museum.

(Photo captions on left side of marker) (Caption 1) The progressive ideals that went into planning the town were also present in the teaching practices at the school. Under the leadership of Principal
Preamble to the Constitution Plaque image. Click for full size.
By Tom Fuchs, January 12, 2008
3. Preamble to the Constitution Plaque
This picture was taken with Ektachrome E100GX film
Catherine T. Reed, the children learned by doing projects and exploring nature. Prince George's County’s first kindergarten began in this building. • (Caption 2) Greenbelt children travelled to school on the pedestrian pathways that connect the center buildings to the nearby houses. Can you figure out where this path was? • (Caption 3) What changes can you see in the landscape and building from 60 years ago?

(Photo captions on right side of marker) (Caption 1) The sculptor of the friezes, Leonore Thomas, worked on several government projects during the Depression. It took Thomas and an assistant over a year to complete the friezes. The carvings represent the Preamble to the United States Constitution. While working on the friezes, Thomas remarked, “We want to keep the designs bold and simple and sufficiently obvious that, with the lettering beneath each panel, any workman or child could understand them. After we finish blocking out the figures we are going to use the workmen around here [as models] for the faces and costumes.”
Greenbelt Community Center plaque image. Click for full size.
By Tom Fuchs, January 12, 2008
4. Greenbelt Community Center plaque
Dedicated to the citizens of Greenbelt. October, 1995. This picture was taken with Ektachrome E100GX film.
Can you see how Ms. Thomas changed the final sculptures? • (Caption 2) Children leaving the school, circa 1942.
 
Location. 39° 0.056′ N, 76° 52.693′ W. Marker is in Greenbelt, Maryland, in Prince George's County. Marker can be reached from the intersection of Crescent Road and Southway. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Greenbelt MD 20770, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Eleanor Roosevelt (within shouting distance of this marker); City of Greenbelt (within shouting distance of this marker); Swimming Pool (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Roosevelt Center (about 600 feet away); Gas Station (approx. 0.2 miles away); Greenbelt Historic District (approx. 0.3 miles away); Greenbelt (approx. 0.3 miles away); Greenbelt Homes Inc. (approx. 0.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Greenbelt.
 
Also see . . .  In Greenbelt's Town Center, a Fine New Deal.
Art Deco Frieze "To Form A More Perfect Union" image. Click for full size.
By Tom Fuchs, 2006
5. Art Deco Frieze "To Form A More Perfect Union"
The six reliefs, made of Indiana limestone, are by Lenore Thomas Straus and date to 1937.
2000 article by Benjamin Forgey in The Washington Post. (Submitted on September 16, 2007.) 
 
Categories. 20th CenturyNotable Buildings
 
Art Deco Frieze "Establish Justice" image. Click for full size.
By Tom Fuchs, 2006
6. Art Deco Frieze "Establish Justice"
Art Deco Frieze "Insure Domestic Tranquility" image. Click for full size.
By Tom Fuchs, January 1, 2000
7. Art Deco Frieze "Insure Domestic Tranquility"
Art Deco Frieze "Provide for the Common Defense" image. Click for full size.
By Tom Fuchs, 2006
8. Art Deco Frieze "Provide for the Common Defense"
Art Deco Frieze "Promote the General Welfare" image. Click for full size.
By Tom Fuchs, 2006
9. Art Deco Frieze "Promote the General Welfare"
Sculpture by Leonore Thomas image. Click for full size.
By Tom Fuchs, January 1, 2000
10. Sculpture by Leonore Thomas
“Gift of Lenore Straus, the artist’s daughter. Dedicated by the City of Greenbelt on June 2, 2000.”
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on September 12, 2007, by Tom Fuchs of Greenbelt, Maryland. This page has been viewed 1,665 times since then and 27 times this year. Photos:   1. submitted on September 12, 2007, by Tom Fuchs of Greenbelt, Maryland.   2, 3, 4. submitted on January 28, 2008, by Tom Fuchs of Greenbelt, Maryland.   5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. submitted on September 12, 2007, by Tom Fuchs of Greenbelt, Maryland. • J. J. Prats was the editor who published this page.
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