As a neighborhood known for its beautiful houses and vibrant business district, Georgetowners like things just so. There is one piece of streetscape that puts frowns on the faces of passers-by. There, a sign reads, “The National Jewel Center,” which sits, aged and forlorn, on the empty 1351 Wisconsin Ave., NW, space.
This address did not always look so homely, and some pieces of its history are still visible in the old signage hanging out front. It became home to the bustling Dumbarton Theater in 1913. It was alight and glorious, a playhouse equipped with seating for 460. The Dumbarton Theater became the Georgetown Theater and began showing movies in 1947. The theater – infamous for showing the Penthouse-produced film, “Caligula,” for months on end — was sold in 1986 to be used for retail.
The National Jewel Center took its turn after the fall of the Georgetown Theater. After 20 years, it closed, leaving the space for sale by the Heon family with no takers yet. It has sat this way for the past two years, as the iconic Georgetown Theater sign collects rust with each passing season. Georgetown is ready for a change.
And, finally, change may be on the way. The dusty space may, after two long years of sitting and collecting sympathy, have an amazing transformation in its near future.
According to the Washingtonian, Politics and Prose Bookstore may be coming to Georgetown. The popular and successful independent bookstore at 5015 Connecticut Ave., N.W., wants to expand and may take over the currently dingy Wisconsin Avenue space.
Politics and Prose, with its workshops, speakers and coffee shop element, would add some real verve to Georgetown. Unfortunately, this business expansion has not yet been officially confirmed. As P&P owners Bradley Graham and Lisa Muscatine are currently out of town, no statement could be received on the matter. Employees at the Connecticut Avenue location have made it clear that only the owners are able to comment on this supposed business plan. So, until the bosses are back in town, Georgetowners can only cross their fingers and dare to dream. Look for a follow-up in next week’s newsletter.