Washington Park Arts building, a recent recipient of Landmark status, lets families chase their artistic dreams

Building a true work of art

When the Jefferson City Host Lions Club sponsored the Works Progress Administration to build a limestone pavilion at Washington Park, it was a place for families to picnic and an improvement to the city's parks system.

More than 60 years and two additions later, the quaint building at the corner of Kansas Street and Missouri Boulevard is still a place for families.

Now, at a stop along the city's Greenway system, visitors to the Jefferson City Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department's Washington Park Center may view art exhibits, take an art class or hold private meetings.

A few years ago, the department restored the interior to its original design with vaulted ceilings and exposed rock walls.

And in May, the city's Historic Preservation Commission named it a city Landmark.

Originally, the structure was an open-air park pavilion named the Washington Park Shelter House.

It was enclosed about a decade later and renovated to house the Jefferson City Park Board administrative offices.

The 1,200-square-foot addition to the south in 1976 allowed for more office space and public meeting rooms. The park board administrative offices remained there until 1983 when the Parks and Recreation Commission was formed under the new City Charter and offices were relocated to City Hall.

The building was a popular civic group meeting place in the 1970s.

Currently, the Washington Park Center is home to the Capital Arts Gallery, which displays art work for public viewing and provides workshop space for art classes, cosponsored by the parks department.

The location helps the department promote nonsporting recreation and gives the Capital Arts organization a permanent locations for offices and exhibits.

Classes offered include airbrush, photography, clay, drawing, basket-weaving, jewelry, pastels, watercolors, and framing.

The Jefferson City Historic Preservation Commission has named 87 local buildings and sites historic Landmarks since 1993.

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