RENOVATING THE HISTORIC GALES SCHOOL
In more than a century of helping the area's invisible neighbors, Central Union Mission has moved often, residing in several wards throughout the city. Beginning in a rented room at 909 Pennsylvania Avenue, the city’s first long-term shelter opened on C Street, NW, between 6th and 7th Streets in 1891. Due to the 1974 Pennsylvania Avenue Plan, the Mission was displaced through eminent domain from its 90-year downtown location and relocated to 1350 R Street, NW.
The Mission's R Street building was originally designed as a car dealership during the 1920s. While it served thousands of people well, it was completely outmoded for today’s demands, cramped and extremely costly to maintain. In addition, neighborhood revitalization efforts attracted affluent residents and forced poor and needy neighbors to other areas of the city.
It was the right time for Central Union Mission to move from an outdated, inefficient building to an area of the city with the greatest need for support for poor and homeless people. In 2010, Central Union Mission successfully competed in the Department of Real Estate Services’ public solicitation process to identify an organization to restore the former Gales School building for use as a homeless shelter.