In the Upton neighborhood of West Baltimore—a cultural center of the city’s Black community—sits the vacant and former elementary school attended by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. It was originally constructed in 1877 and operated as a public elementary school known as P.S. 103, for 94 years.
During much of the period prior to racial integration, P.S. 103 served only Black students from the surrounding neighborhoods. Shortly after closing, the city of Baltimore leased the building to the Upton Planning Committee, which operated the Upton Cultural and Arts Center until the early 1990s. Many of the building’s students and residents of its surrounding streets went on to become great leaders of Baltimore—including Thurgood Marshall, Congressman Elijah E. Cummings, and housing advocate Lena J. Boone. But for nearly 30 years, the historic building and community pillar at 1315 Division Street has sat empty. Until now…
Driven by pride in the local legacy of Justice Marshall and a burning desire to restore the building to prominence as an anchor in West Baltimore, Dr. Alvin C. Hathaway—president/CEO of the Beloved Community Services Corporation (BCSC)—is leading the historic rehabilitation and commercial reuse of the former segregated elementary school. Pastor Hathaway is a Black developer and prominent community activist. His mantra is “Justice Thurgood Marshall should be to Baltimore as The Reverend Dr Martin Luther King Jr is to Atlanta.”
Through the transformation of P.S. 103, into the P.S.103 Justice Thurgood Marshall Center, Hathaway plans to fulfill BCSC’s mission to serve urban communities by offering services that transform lives. The property, which includes the school building and eight additional parcels used as surface parking, will be fully rehabilitated and repositioned as a community hub and offices for local non-profit organizations.
The completed project will house tenants embodying the values of Justice Thurgood Marshall—civil rights, ethics, and equal justice under the law—while providing a community gathering and events center space. Hathaway stated, “I look at P.S. 103 and see the opportunity of a new life— for an historic building and for the people and the community of West Baltimore.”
The City of Baltimore views the redevelopment of the site as a catalyst to spur new development and social service programming in the area. It also has a high mission alignment with Reinvestment Fund’s commitment to investing in Black-led organizations. BCSC will occupy a first-floor office space and manage the center’s event and community gathering spaces. The University of Maryland’s Judge Alexander Williams, Jr. Center for Justice, Ethics, and Education—which conducts research and recommends reforms to advance racial and economic equity in education and social outcomes—will serve as the anchor tenant.
Other tenants include:
Reinvestment Fund financing for this project includes a $3.3M Capital Campaign Bridge, a $1.8M bridge of State of Maryland Historic Tax Credits, and a $1.2M bridge of Federal Historic Tax Credit Equity, as well as $7.7M of New Market Tax Credit (NMTC) allocation. An additional $2M NMTC allocation will be made by US Bank, which will also serve as the NMTC investor. The Neighborhood Impact Investor Fund is a co-lender.
The redevelopment of P.S. 103 is expected to help establish Upton as a cultural tourism destination, serve as a cultural asset for the local community, and provide transformative programs and services for residents. The National Park Service is also studying whether the former school could be designated as a new National Park unit.