Torpedo Factory Art Center is a naval munitions factory that was converted into an art center on the banks of the Potomac River in Old Town, Alexandria, Virginia.The Torpedo Factory Art Center is home to the largest number of publicly accessible working artist studios in the U.S.
Each year, more than a half-million national and international visitors meet and interact with the community of artists. It houses more than 82 artists' studios, 7 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.HistoryAfter months of planning, on November 12, 1918--ironically the day after Armistice Day marked the end of WWI--the U.S. Navy began construction of the U.S. Naval Torpedo Station. The factory built torpedoes for five years before becoming munitions storage. With the onset of WWII, the factory produced Mark III torpedoes for aircraft and Mark XIV torpedoes for submarines.By the war's end in 1945, the complex was converted to government storage for things such as congressional documents, artifacts from The Smithsonian, and Nazi trial records. The City of Alexandria eventually bought the building in 1969.In 1974, Marian Van Landingham, as president of The Art League, proposed a project to renovate part of the factory into studio spaces for the Alexandria Bicentennial Project. The project was originally approved for only three years. 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.
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