Torpedo Factory Art Center
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The Torpedo Factory Art Center is an art center located on the waterfront of the Potomac River at 105 North Union Street in the Old Town of Alexandria, Virginia, United States. Historically it was a torpedo factory and munitions storage site.
It houses more than 82 artists' studios, 6 galleries and two workshops, with some 165 professional visual artists who produce a diversity of artwork, ranging from painting, ceramics, photography, jewelry, stained glass, fiber, printmaking, and sculpture. The six galleries located at the Torpedo Factory include the Target Gallery, The Art League Gallery, Enamelists Gallery, the Multiple Exposures Gallery which specializes in photography, the Potomac Fiber Arts Gallery and the Scope Gallery which specializes in ceramics.
The center attracts around 500,000 visitors annually.
On November 12, 1918, the U.S. Navy began constructing a torpedo factory in Alexandria, named the U.S. Naval Torpedo Station. Over the next five years it was responsible for the manufacture and maintenance of torpedoes and subsequently served as a munitions storage area until World War II. As the demand for weapons dramatically increased during the war it resumed production activity and the factory was substantially expanded with ten new buildings. A green Mark XIV torpedo was manufactured in the factory in 1945, which is still on display.
After World War II, production ceased and the factory was used throughout the 1950s and 1960s by the Smithsonian Institution, which stored art and paleaontological items there, and by Congress for storing documents. In 1969, the President of the Art League, Marian Van Landingham, proposed to adapt the building into studios for working artists. Following the approval of the Commission, the factory was purchased by the City of Alexandria from the Federal Government. Large-scale renovation began in May 1974 and the new center formally opened on September 15, 1974. From 1982 to 1983, the building underwent further renovation in compliance with the City's waterfront development plan and was entirely gutted and rebuilt with a new ventilation system and central heating. It formally reopened on May 20, 1983. Adjacent industrial facilities were demolished to build the Torpedo Factory Condominiums in 1985. The Torpedo Factory Condominiums is a condominium community located between N. Union St. and Lee St. The community is less than a block from Alexandria’s waterfront and a block from the shops and restaurants of King St.
- Marian Van Landingham, who spearheaded the founding of the Art Center
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