“The Extraordinary Life and Legacy of Carol Stuart Watson, the Nation’s Capital Illustrator” was the name of Marjorie Young’s lecture about her mother, Carol Stuart Watson, at the Georgetown Public Library June 13.
For the Georgetowner — which recently marked its 60th anniversary — Young was telling a story close to its heart and its beginning in 1954, when her mother Carol Stuart, an artist, editor and writer, helped founding publisher Ami Stewart create the look of the iconic newspaper for the oldest neighborhood in Washington, D.C.
“To say my mother had a lifelong love affair with Georgetown and its colonial neighbors would be an understatement,” Young said. She arrived at Georgetown Hospital on August 14, 1931, the eldest of seven children born to Dr. Leander Scales Stuart and Henrietta Christine Kreh Stuart.
By 1954, Stuart was at the brand-new Georgetowner Newspaper. “Those days at the Georgetowner, my mother told me, were the happiest time in her life,” Young said.
In 1960, Carol and David Watson founded Carriage Trade Publications, which was located under the Whitehurst Expressway next to the old coal power plant.
“They befriended and did business with the owners of many of the finest shops and restaurants in Georgetown and across the region,” Young recalled. “Mom used her considerable talents to teach their many customers how to build comprehensive brand image campaigns. She had a terrific influence on the visual brand language of the entire area. She designed the shapes, colors, materials, finishes, typography and composition which directly and subliminally communicated the personality of the District.”
For Young, her June trip was an emotional return to Washington after so many years. She could see and feel her mother’s writing in Georgetown, she said.
The Georgetowner still possesses copies of the Federalist-antique-style map of Georgetown that is seen in homes around town. It was drawn by Carol Stuart Watson, who with her husband papered the city with maps, posters, dining guides, calendars and Christmas cards. She drew the first images of the pandas for the National Zoo. She illustrated children’s books, drew murals in building lobbies and worked at Johns Hopkins’s Applied Physics Laboratory. Watson died of lung cancer in 1986.
“I think one of the most remarkable things about my mother is that she accomplished all of this by age 54,” Young said. “She accumulated a long list of achievements in her short time on this earth, and she left an indelible imprint on her beloved community, that rippled out across the District and throughout the nation. … I’ll always think of her as a loving wife and the most incredible mother, but I’ll also remember mom as a prolific artist, a superb photographer and as a person who simply appreciated beauty in everything: music, flowers, nature, family. Mom was as sensitive as any lens in a camera.”