James W. Washington Jr. was a genius among us. Dr. Washington was born and raised in Gloster, Mississippi, and came to Seattle with his wife Janie to work in the shipyards as part of the WW II war effort. James was a renaissance man, with a wide variety of talents and interests; besides his mechanical and industrial capabilities, he was a prolific painter and sculptor, becoming an eminent member of the Northwest School of Art, as well as a writer and community activist, with his letters now held at the Smithsonian Institute.
The couple bought a house in the Central Area in 1949, where they resided for 51 years. A dream developed in them to bequeath their home to the community, leaving a place where people from all backgrounds could experience art, gather and learn. To this end, the Washingtons established a non-profit foundation in 1997, personally selecting their board of directors, a few of whom are still serving the organization. When James and Janie both died in the year 2000, they left their home, a treasure trove of art work, artifacts and collections, as well as a substantial endowment as a legacy for the entire community. It is the most profound and generous bequest either of us have ever known.
Over the years, the organization has maintained and upgraded the house, studio and gardens and presented activities and programs for the community. After 20 years, the Foundation’s resources have understandably been depleted. However last October the Foundation received a substantial bequest from the Estate of Anne Gould Hauberg who had been a founding board member, which bequest was received as a sort of miracle for the organization. The board began immediately to leverage this donation to raise the profile of the Foundation in the community. We engaged the tirelessly energetic James Kelly to lead a Strategic Planning Committee to refresh the mission and vision of the James & Janie Washington Foundation.
The James & Janie Washington Foundation is a house museum and much more. As a house museum, we are in the company of Martin Luther King Jr., Paul Laurence Dunbar and Alex Haley. Our current projects include: continuing to improve and preserve the landmarked house, grounds and studio of James & Janie Washington; renew our Artist in Residence program of a four week residency with stipend, culminating in an exhibition honoring the artist and showing the new work created on site; make the studio space available for rental; install exhibits in the house on a rotating basis; and make available the library with over 3,000 books of potential interest to artists and scholars, as well as Dr. Washington’s personal documents, photographs and African art collection.
We need your help and support to accomplish the work we have set out to do. We invite you to make a financial contribution to help support the Foundation’s effort to bring renewed life and vitality to the Washingtons’ remarkable legacy, and endorse Anne Gould Hauberg’s generous bequest. If you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to call the Foundation at (206) 709-4241.
Thank you for kind attention.
Rev Dr. Laverne Hall, Virginia Wyman,
President, Board of Directors Board Member Emeritus