In 1896, Saint-Denis had 54,432 inhabitants, making it the most populated town in what was the Seine department at that time. The birth rate was relatively high, due in particular to the presence of immigrant families from Brittany and Italy. The nursery school on Rue Franciade, built between 1898 and 1901, was constructed precisely to meet this demographic need. It was intended for children between the ages of three and seven whose mothers mostly worked in the textile industry.
The brick building was designed to be a model school, with its perfect marriage of form and function. The entrance-hall, headmistress' office, and two corridors giving access to four classrooms are organized around a large assembly-hall. Everything is on the ground floor, except for the headmistress's living quarters on an upper floor. The rooms are high ceilinged and well lit by large windows. Ventilation is provided by the large playground and a small courtyard.
The school was in operation until the 1970s. Since 1981, it has been the home of the Saint-Denis Archaeological Unit becoming the Maison de l'Archéologie.