Alma Thomas House

For over 70 years, this was the home of Alma Thomas, a pioneering African American artist and art educator.

From 1907 until her death, this was the home and studio of Alma Thomas (1892‑1978), a nationally recognized artist whose career reached its height in the 1960s. Thomas is significant not only for her artistic contributions, but also for her dedication to educating and introducing both young and adult African Americans to the world of art during the time of segregation in the nation’s capital.

In 1924, Thomas graduated as the first art major at Howard University, and probably the first black female fine arts graduate in the nation. From 1925 to 1960, Thomas taught at Shaw Junior High School while continuing her painting and studies.

Her mostly abstract work is sometimes associated with the Washington Color School. She took inspiration from this house and the natural world she viewed from it—both the holly tree in this house's front yard and crape myrtle in the back garden figure in her painting.

Her work is included in the collections of the National Museum of American Art, Corcoran Gallery, Metropolitan Museum, Whitney Museum, and others. The two-story Italianate row house was built about 1875.

DC Inventory: November 13, 1985
National Register: July 28, 1987



1530 15th Street, NW