1231 Good Hope Road, the land on which the Anacostia Arts Center currently sits, was originally purchased by the Margolis family in the 1930s. The family was renowned throughout DC for their vast ownership of property in the area. 1231 Good Hope Road originally housed 3 separate buildings, which the Margolis family leased to Woolworth, a discounted apparel store, for the majority of the century. The last two decades of the century proved difficult for the Woolworth chain, causing the decline and eventual fall of the once widely popular store. In May of 1999, with Woolworth out of business, the Margolis grandchildren made the decision to sell the Good Hope Road property. Looking to expand their nonprofit which then owned the neighboring building (currently Jubilee Jobs), Arch Development Corporation purchased the property in 1999 with a 15 year loan from BB & T bank.

The “W” tiled into the floor at the Art Center’s main entrance serves as  a reminder of the Woolworth department store that once occupied the space.

The “W” tiled into the floor at the Art Center’s main entrance serves as a reminder of the Woolworth department store that once occupied the space.

For the next 3 years, Arch acquired funding and, in 2002, they began construction to transform 1231 Good Hope Road into a job training center for local residents. In 2011, the lower level of the building was renovated to serve as a small business incubator. And in January of 2013, the decision was made to transform the upper floor of the building as well. With input from area residents who affirmed their community did not need another social service agency, the upper floor underwent the transition from a job training center to an arts center with an aim at employing the arts and the creative economy. Anacostia Arts Center officially opened to the public on June 22, 2013 during Arch’s annual festival, Lumen8Anacostia and since has continued to grow as a home of the arts.