Topper Carew and The New Thing Art & Architecture Center
Topper Carew, founder of The New Thing Art & Architecture Center c1967, spoke at the monthly Black Power Chronicles meeting last night. thank you Black Power Chronicles for preserving and amplifying the history of Black Power in DC and globally.
The New Thing began in Adams Morgan at 18th & Florida in 1966 as the New Thing Architecture Center. Carew was an architect who wanted to use his expertise and skills, and philosophy of equity & excellence, to design for individuals, families and neighborhoods in DC. He (and many others) recognized the importance of black designers and architects being "community architects" who would lead changes in the city's landscape. One of the things Carew is proud of is saving the homes of a number of elderly black residents near Marie Reed; the city was planning to demolish their homes.
By 1968, the center had filmmaking, photography, art and dance classes for young people. Melvin Deal, founder of African Heritage Dancers & Drummers, partnered with The New Thing, offering dancing and drumming classes. There was also a weekly concert series at Margaret's Episcopal Church, Connecticut Ave & Bancroft Place, a historically white church.
The New Thing also became a place where young men who resisted the Vietnam War could do alternative service.
Do you remember The New Thing? Did you take classes there? Were you a teacher? Please share your memories in the comments below or share them here.
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photo source: MIT Media Lab