The historical record suggests that the Town of Washington was surveyed by a young George Washington in 1749, and it is the first town to take his name. The two-by-six layout of the streets is essentially unchanged since the Revolutionary War. The Gallery building is believed to be one of the oldest, continually operated mercantile buildings in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The main structure was constructed circa 1836 by James B. Jones, and it was known as Jones’s Store for most of its history. It opened at about the same time the county court buildings were designed by a student of Thomas Jefferson’s, and served as a gathering place for town residents. (The current Gallery is available for use by local non-profits and other groups needing a place to meet.)
A rear room and second floor addition were added in approximately 1850 (today the second floor is used as the Gallery’s offices), and by 1910 a one-story addition, which for years provided parking space for the local school bus, had been added to the south. It is now used by the artist Kevin H. Adams as his studio. When the current owners purchased the building in 2015, only limited store fixtures remained: Portions of a counter that once ringed the main room have been restored and repurposed as the Gallery’s “floating” counter: Now on wheels, the original mercantile counter pieces can be repositioned according to the needs of the Gallery’s current exhibition. Although the floor in the main room was in such poor shape that it had to be replaced for safety reasons, in renovating the Gallery, the owners have preserved the historic elements and repaired the major structural elements and systems in the hopes that it will continue to serve as mercantile building well into the next century.