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Architects of the Archdiocese of Washington: E. Philip Schreier

Architect Edwin Philip Schreier Sr. designed the building for St. Ann’s Infant and Maternity Home, now known as St. Ann’s Home for Children, Youth and Families, at roughly the same time he was designing La Reine High School in Suitland.  As La Reine was a symmetrical school design with a prominent central spire, St. Ann’s was an asymmetrical design whose chapel extends out over the driveway.  At the front of the chapel on the exterior is a monumental statue of St. Ann.  (Archives of Archdiocese of Washington)

When Edwin Philip Schreier Sr. died in 1985, he had spent more than 50 years working as an architect in the Washington area. He was born on January 12, 1904 and grew up around the Massachusetts and Rhode Island border area. He attended The Catholic University of America and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in architecture in 1927. He worked as a draftsman for several local architecture firms before being appointed Municipal Architect in Washington and opening his own firm with several partners in 1932. In 1935, he applied for membership in the American Institute of Architects, recommended by his former professor, Frederick V. Murphy, the head of the School of Architecture at Catholic University.  

The most prominent of Schreier’s early work as an independent architect is the Woodmoor Shopping Center on the northeast corner of the intersection of University Boulevard and Colesville Road in Silver Spring. He completed the work for the center in 1946, and today it is still one of the more familiar parts of the Four Corners area in Silver Spring.  

By 1950, Schreier had gone out on his own and had begun working primarily for the Archdiocese of Washington. He designed and oversaw the construction of some of the largest facilities that the archdiocese built in the 1950s and 1960s including the original building constructed for the Carroll Manor nursing home at 4922 LaSalle Road in Hyattsville, which is now a private nursing facility; St. Ann’s Infant and Maternity Home, now St. Ann’s Center for Children, Youth and Families, also in Hyattsville; the now-closed La Reine High School in Suitland; and the Kennedy Institute in the Brookland section of Washington, D.C.  He also designed St. Philip the Apostle Church in Camp Springs, St. Bernadine of Siena Church in Suitland, and St. Margaret’s School and convent in Seat Pleasant. Schreier also made some additions to Annunciation Church in Washington, D.C.

Washington Archbishop Patrick O’Boyle founded the Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Institute with a $500,000 grant from the Kennedy Foundation in 1960. Then-Archbishop O’Boyle was interested in building a school and providing services for developmentally challenged youth. After speaking with Ethel Kennedy, wife of Robert Kennedy, he traveled to New York City and met with Ambassador Joseph Kennedy Sr. to secure the money. Archbishop O’Boyle also invited the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur to staff the institute. In this photo, Archbishop O’Boyle is shown receiving the check from Robert and Ethel Kennedy. Robert Kennedy is holding Edwin Philip Schreier’s color presentation drawing of the Kennedy Institute building.  The drawing is in the housed in the Archdiocesan Archives. (Archdiocese of Washington Archives)

Schreier took many of the common features of the mid-century modern style of architecture and enhanced them in his designs  This was most evident at La Reine High School, where Schreier enhanced a common school form with a monumental spire on top of a pre-cast concrete dome at the center of the building. At both the Kennedy Institute and St. Ann’s Home for Children, Youth and Families, Schreier employed an asymmetrical design with a series of prominent modern features.  

Edwin Philip Schreier Sr. designed La Reine High School in Suitland in the late 1950s.  It was run by the Bernardine Sisters of St. Francis. The school opened in 1961 and operated as a Catholic school until the mid-1990s when it was sold to Prince George’s County. When it first opened, it was a state-of-the-art high school with specially designed furniture and class space including a domed science lab. The Archdiocesan Archives has among its collections a series of photos taken of the school when it opened that document its original arrangement. (Archdiocese of Washington Archives)

La Reine High School was sold to Prince George’s County in 1995 and served most recently as Drew-Freeman Middle School.  That building is currently slated for demolition and replacement by the county. 

(Dr. Jacobe serves as the director of the Archives for the Archdiocese of Washington.)