Then and Now: Matthew Fontaine Maury School/Arlington Arts Center
Learn more about a former area elementary school that is now home to the Arlington Arts Center.
Has the artistic-looking building at 3550 Wilson Blvd. that still features traditional architecture ever caught your eye? If you have been curious about the building's current use or its history, this week's column takes a look.
The space was originally used for the Clarendon Elementary School, which was built in 1910. The original building featured two stories, a central hall and four classrooms on each floor. The school was renamed the Matthew Fontaine Maury School in 1925 in honor of Matthew Fontaine Maury, a native Virginian who was a naval officer, geographer and oceanographer known as the "pathfinder of the seas." He became a commander in the Confederate Navy in 1861 after resigning from the U.S. Navy. The Maury School closed in 1975.
The former school building is now home to the Arlington Arts Center (AAC), a private, nonprofit contemporary visual arts center dedicated to presenting and supporting new work by regional artists in the mid-Atlantic. The AAC was established in 1974 and has been housed since 1976 in the historic building. The center works to increase awareness, appreciation of and involvement in the visual arts in Arlington and the region through exhibitions, educational programs and subsidized studio spaces. The venue is one of the largest non-federal spaces for contemporary art in the Washington, D.C., area.
The building is the second oldest school building remaining in Arlington. (Arlington's oldest school building is the current site of the former Hume School, which was built in 1891. This building, located at 1805 S. Arlington Ridge Rd., is now the Arlington Historical Museum, which is owned and operated by the Arlington Historical Society.) The former Maury School is a designated Arlington County Landmark and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
To learn more about the Maury School, visit http://www.arlingtonhistoricalsociety.org/learn/sites_properties/schools.html and http://library.arlingtonva.us/departments/libraries/history/librarieshistorypichistd.aspx. For additional details about the Arlington Arts Center, visit https://www.arlingtonartscenter.org.
More Arlington History
If you’d like to see more photos of Arlington through the years, the Virginia Room at Arlington’s Central Library has just placed its Local History Collection online. The Flickr gallery includes images of houses, neighborhoods, people, places, county government and more. See the online collection at http://library.arlingtonva.us/departments/Libraries/history/LibrariesHistoryLocalHistory.aspx.