Profiles

The New Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital Will Offer Much Needed Gallery Space to Growing Local Artist Community

Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital Washington DC art galleries artists on east city art

Nicky Cymrot reviews stored artwork that will be used in the Hill Center’s inaugural opening.

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.After years of neglect, bureaucratic wrangling and community debate, what was once a naval hospital established to care for wounded sailors and marines after the civil war, the Old Naval Hospital at 921 Pennsylvania Avenue SE has been transformed into a four level multi-purpose community center.  Great care has been taken to restore the 1866 structure back to its original state.  The original doors were stripped, refurbished and painted.  A neighborhood historian painstakingly cataloged each fence segment to ensure its proper restoration.  These two examples show the great care the the Hill Center’s founders  have taken to preserve Washington’s first military hospital.

In addition to ensuring  proper historic preservation of the Old Naval Hospital, the founders have created a sustainable center with future generations in mind.  The Hill Center boasts a series of environmentally conscious initiatives including the use of geothermal energy to heat and cool the classes, conference rooms and offices that make up the renovated space.

The Hill Center intends to offer the community a number of different classes in subjects as varied as art and computer programing to language classes and dance lessons.  The Hill Center’s state of the art kitchen promises future students a serious culinary experience and the conservatory will teach future generations of musicians.

For local artists, the revitalized Hill Center provides a new venue to exhibit art, network and see the works of others.   The center’s high ceilings, hanging system and lighting design lend themselves to showing work.  In addition to showcasing talent in the large corridors between rooms, the Hill Center will manage two named galleries.   The first gallery, located on the West End of the building, is named after Constantino Brumidi, an Italian-born artist who came to Washington via New York City to paint the frescoes of the Capitol.  The Brumidi gallery is approximately 200 square feet and with its high ceilings and large windows, gallery-goers should expect to witness grand opening receptions.  Across the hall, a space has been set aside for art classes.  With over-sized bulletin boards and soft northwestern light, the space is sure to inspire even the most reluctant student.  Down the corridor, one will find the Matthew B. Brady Gallery. The gallery is named for the famous DC-based civil war photographer who captured the horror of the Battle of Antietam with chilling visual accuracy.  The Brady gallery is a smaller more intimate space than the Brumidi gallery and faces east looking down Pennsylvania Ave toward the river.

Alan Braley, who ran “The Village” gallery at Eastern Market up until his recent retirement, will curate the first exhibitions in these spaces.  While the organizers have not set an official date for the inaugural opening, what is certain is that the first exhibitions will feature work by local Capitol Hill artists.    Naturally, we will keep you posted on the inaugural opening and all future art openings and classes at the Hill Center.

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Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital Washington DC art galleries artists on east city art

The dedicated art classrooms at the hill center are starting off well equipped. Note the massive bulletin board to the right of the door. There are two such cork boards in the room for displaying student work (and saving walls).

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Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital Washington DC art galleries artists on east city art

Colorful storage shelving in the Hill Center’s dedicated art classroom. The Hill Center’s founders envision community based adult and children’s art programs.

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Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital Washington DC art galleries artists on east city art

Having spared no expense in their attempt to ensure a long-term sustainable community center, a nail-less hanging system is being installed to prevent damage to the original plaster walls that have been lovingly restored to their original luster.

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Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital Washington DC art galleries artists on east city art

One of two named galleries, the Constantino Brumidi Gallery sits at the west end of the Hill Center.  (Note the restored original flooring).

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Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital Washington DC art galleries artists on east city art

Period engravings of Washington landmarks donated by a local attorney will be on display in the Hill Center’s Latrobe Conference Center.

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Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital Washington DC art galleries artists on east city art

The second of the two named galleries, the more intimate Matthew B. Brady Gallery sits at the East end of the Hill Center.

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The Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital is Located at 921 Pennsylvania Avenue SE.  Contact the Hill Center at 202.549.4172, via email at [email protected] or visit them on the web at www.hillcenterdc.org

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Phil Hutinet
Authored by: Phil Hutinet

Phil Hutinet, a third generation Capitol Hill resident, is the publisher of East City Art which he began in 2010 to document and promote the growing contemporary art movement in the eastern communities of Washington, DC. In 2012-2013, his consultancy work east of the river yielded the Anacostia Playhouse, Craig Kraft Studios, the Anacostia Arts Center and the 2012-2013 LUMEN8ANACOSTIA festivals. He currently produces EMULSION, East City Art's annual regional juried show. In 2015, he coordinated the Gateway Open Studio Tour and continues to consult on numerous regional art projects. Hutinet has been interviewed by or has made appearances on the BBC, Capital Community News, Washingtonian, Washington City Paper, The Washington Post, WOL Radio, WJLA ABC News Channel 7/Channel 8, WTOP and other local and national media.