Mapping Georgetown: Jackson Art Center’s Open Studio This Sunday, Dec. 4

Thank you, artist Howard Carr of Jackson Art Center, for your Mapping Georgetown story. Your appropriately avant-garde submittal gives us the perfect opportunity to spread the word about the center’s not-to-be-missed Open Studio this Sunday, Dec. 4 — 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. (masks required).

You can view artist Howard Carr’s work at the Open Studio this Sunday or here on his website.

Howard R. Carr’s Mapping Georgetown Story

Howard R. Carr’s Mapping Georgetown story. Courtesy Mapping Georgetown.

Stillness in action

free and clear of clamor

is done in a quiet way.

~ Howard R. Carr

The Story of Jackson Art Center

The uniquely interesting Jackson Art Center building at 3050 R Street NW on a normal day, does not give many clues as to what’s happening on the inside, an opportunity for Mapping Georgetown to paint a picture!

Since the late 1960s, the Jackson Arts Center has been a unique haven for artists in Georgetown and the District. Without the studio space available in many cities around the country, Washington artists often find themselves without suitable accommodations, working out of their homes or group-leased office space. But when the Jackson School closed its doors as a public elementary school, a colony of artists took control of the Victorian schoolhouse and transformed its spacious rooms with tall, wide windows into ideal studio space for artists of all kinds. Not as commercialized as the Torpedo Factory artspaces in Alexandria, Virginia, the Jackson Art Center is an ideal retreat for serious local artists who want to focus on their craft and contribute to the community’s culture. Over forty years later its vision has remained steadfast and the artwork enriching.

On their website at, the space’s purposes are set forth: “The mission of The Jackson Art Center is to maintain the historic Jackson School building as affordable studio space for local artists, and to share our talents with D.C. students, seniors, families, and others for whom art can elevate and empower…”

In 2011, The Georgetowner interviewed Simma Liebman, a painter and then-president of the Jackson Arts Center. “Jackson was built in the same style as many Georgetown public schools: three floors, four large classrooms per floor, each with a narrow “coat room” outside of it, with bathrooms in the basement, wide staircases, and no elevators. When we moved in, we found quite a few reminders that the building had been designed for young children — rows of coat hooks three feet above the floor, small toilets and sinks and so on,” Liebman said. “…But the space is fabulous for artists. High ceilings, large windows, lots of light. By dividing the large classrooms into as many as four spaces each, we can now accommodate 45 artists, with lots of common areas for members to display their work. See the full story here.

The interesting yet intriguing Jackson School building has a story all its own. The Jackson Art Center overlooking the Montrose Park Gardens, was built in 1890.

Thank you to Topher Mathews in his Georgetown Metropolitan newsletter for his guidance and direction with this subject and so many more!

“The Jackson School was named after Pres. Andrew Jackson. It was built on property originally part of Governor Henry Cooke’s. Due to a drop in enrollment from 320 to 120, the school was threatened with closure in 1942. Georgetown parents protested the last minute closure (it was announced just days before the school year) and the school remained open. It housed Georgetown’s war ration board during World War II. In 1965, enrollment dropped again (to 90) and the school was declared “open,” which meant that students from other neighborhoods would be allowed to attend the school (akin to today’s “out of boundary” system)….

… While the school closed around 1971, it appears from a 1974 article by a young Jay Matthews [Washington Post Education Writer] that for at least a short period it was being used as part of a special program for deaf or blind students. By 1980, however, the Jackson School had morphed into essentially what it remains today: an artists gallery/studio. That year, in partnership with the Corcoran, an artists co-op called “A-Salon” took over the then empty Jackson School and created the Jackson Arts Center. Initially the building was split up: the Corcoran taught classes in 60 percent of the space and A-Salon had studios and taught their own classes in the other 40 percent. At some point the Corcoran moved out and now the whole building is occupied by the artists’ studios.”

This Sunday at Open Studio, you can view the Jackson Art Center, inside out, visit with artists. Explore their lovely galleries and even get in some holiday shopping!

To learn more about the Mapping Georgetown project see

To submit your Georgetown recollections to Mapping Georgetown go to  or visit the Georgetown Public Library to pick up a physical map-story form to fill out.

Marilyn Butler can be reached at:



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