|The 1800 Belmont Arts Center, a nine-year-old Mecca for African-American cultural merchants is closing its doors on March 31. The building's owners sold the property and the new owners chose not to extend their monthly leases. "I knew this was coming, so it gives me the incentive to go and find a larger space," said Karl Graham of The Graham Collection.
The three-story stone townhouse at 1800 Belmont Street, N.W. in the Adams-Morgan neighborhood has been home to about ten merchants that sold cultural merchandise ranging from handmade dolls to ceramics. They also provided instruction and information on their creations.
Many merchants including Steve Farrow hope to retain their operations at special events like the March 31 Black Memorabilia Show in Gaithersburg. Others like clothing designer Millee Spears hope to continue a presence in cyberspace. "I figure that I'll do more special events, custom orders, and spend more energy promoting my website," said Spears.ths started the cultural center in 1992. One of his goals was to create a business incubator for the area's most talented craftspeople. BlackPearl Gallery, the newest business in the Center, will depart with an exhibition by Hal Malone through March 25. His works center on the forgotten in America ranging from a former mill town in Massachusetts to Hispanic neighborhoods in DC. Owner Nestor Hernandez, has photographs on display at the Children's Museum as part of "The Washington We Know" exhibit.
"I just told my father, who lives in Baltimore and collects All Gods Children figurines, about The Graham Collection's assortment of them and now I am disappointed that he cannot view their assortment and experience the cultural ambiance that I have experienced," said customer Lisa Jenkins.