USA | Mar 13, 2023

Wellspring Manor and Spa: Celebrating Black art, literature, food, and music with Jamaica in the mix

Candice Stewart

Candice Stewart / Our Today

Reading Time: 7 minutes
Lisa Brown-Alexander, co-owner of Wellspring Manor in Washington, DC

Jamaicans will represent no matter where in the world they are. They will celebrate their culture and ensure that others can experience the country in some way or another. Lisa Brown-Alexander, co-owner of Wellspring Manor, a luxury bed and breakfast, in Washington DC is evidence of that.

Brown-Alexander, the last of five girls, was born and raised in Canada to Earle Brown and Norma Mattocks-Brown . She lived in Canada until her young adult life when she relocated to Washington DC in the U.S. in 1988 to attend Howard University where she studied Business Management and has lived in the state there ever since.

Brown-Alexander, who owns and operates the bed and breakfast alongside her husband, Kevin, represents and celebrates her Jamaican heritage with energy and enthusiasm by ensuring that art, music, cuisine, and literature of Black people are showcased. Naturally, among the lot, Jamaica is highlighted in the realm of art, food, literature, and music.


“My husband and I are business oriented and long-time residents of the region. We saw an opportunity to create an intimate, upscale destination where people of colour could feel celebrated and seen. So, we went about creating that type of experience, hence the birth of Wellspring and it has been a very positive experience since inception,” she said.

“Wellspring was created in concept in 2017 and we opened the property in 2018. It is a 5-bedroom bed and breakfast destination and it is intended to be welcoming to luxury travellers of colour. We specifically celebrate the elements of music, art, food, and literature created by Black people across the world,” Brown-Alexander said in an interview with Our Today. “The elements are not solely Jamaican but I do bring that perspective. My husband, who is American, raised in Chester, Pennsylvania brings his unique perspective as well,” she added.

In highlighting the uniqueness of Wellspring Manor, Brown-Alexander said, “We’re kind of located in the middle of a residential area in Central Prince George’s County. It is an area where one might not expect to find a luxury destination. Most people don’t know it because the property is not visible from the road. We consider it a hidden gem because of that,” she said.

“Before, it [the Wellspring Manor property] was just a private residence owned by a series of individuals over the years. It was built in 1953 and the rest of the neighbourhood began to emerge in the late 70s and early 80s. The property is seven acres and it precedes the community around it. So, there was quite a gap of time between development of this estate and the surrounding area,” she added.

Brown-Alexander and her husband built the property from the ground up. “We created the concept prior to us purchasing the property. It was just a large estate with a large home and some ancillary buildings. We repurposed the buildings to create an art gallery and a dedicated spa. There is also a pool on the property and a waterfall terrace,” she explained.


In referencing the bed and breakfast’s annual week-long Jamaican Independence celebrations, Brown-Alexander said, “We are intentional about showcasing the diversity of Jamaica and not just the jerk chicken and reggae music. We also want to bring attention to the art and literature. Those are aspects of the culture that people can use to expand their definition and understanding of the country.” She also said that for their Jamaica Independence celebrations, they bring in art from across the Jamaican diaspora.

“Where literature is concerned, we have brought in a couple Jamaican authors. One in particular is Dionne Peart. She lives in the US but she is a Jamaican author. Her book, ‘Somerset Grove’ is set in Jamaica and highlights the story about her life as a Jamaican growing up in the US and Canada. She also did a reading here, on property, of her work a few years ago.” Brown-Alexander said.

She shared that the Manor boasts a library called the James Baldwin Room, named after the American author. The space is home to 200 titles where a majority of the authors are people of colour.

Art is integrated across the luxury experience at Wellspring Manor. Art decorates almost every room. A concentration of the art pieces may be found in the barn on property which was transformed into an art gallery. “It is an integral part of the experience so we have art throughout the property. All of the artwork is original, one of a kind, and very limited edition pieces. They hail from artists of colour from around the world. It includes but is not limited to Jamaica and the Caribbean,” she said.

Brown-Alexander shared that the gallery at Wellspring Manor showcases “40 plus artists”. “It’s one of the largest private collections of Black art in the Washington DC region and the art is on display at all times,” she said. Among the lot are Jamaican artists, Donnette Cooper, Sharon Fox-Mould, and Nakazzi Hutchinson.

As far as music is concerned, Brown-Alexander shared that they welcome guests with jazz music played by Black musicians. “We play jazz music throughout the day, and when we have live music, 9/10 times, it is jazz music being featured. When we host our Jamaica Independence celebration, we also feature Jamaican music,” she said.


Brown-Alexander admits that she had no intention to become an entrepreneur but she gravitated to business as early as 14 years old.

“As a child, I recognised that I liked to create. Creation is an important part of what I do. Though I did not intend to be an entrepreneur, I was definitely inspired by my father. He immigrated to the US ahead of me and opened Brown’s Caribbean Bakery in DC. It was a very popular spot back in the 80s and the 90s for Caribbean students who attended Howard University. At that time, it was probably one of very few Jamaican-owned businesses in the area,” she said.

The bakery featured the standard buns, breads, and Jamaican pastries such as gizzadas, toto, and bulla.

Lisa Brown-Alexander, co-owner of Wellspring Manor in Washington, DC

“Back then, there were not too many Caribbean shops and there were very few bakeries that were wholesale. My father had a retail and wholesale component. So, he supplied breads and buns, primarily, to other small stores across the DC area. It was very well known to those who lived in Washington at the time,” she said.

The bakery is no longer in operation as her father, the primary operator is now retired.

A Wellspring future

Brown-Alexander said that guests can continue to expect high quality experiences ranging from the bed and breakfast experience to the events hosted on the property. “We’re very intentional about the types of events that we produce and they are anchored in the four key elements of Wellspring Manor. We don’t have any other locations so we’re not expanding. However, guests can rely on us to continue to diversify what we continue to present to the community,” she said.


Brown-Alexander extends gratitude to her parents for the strong foundation and nurturing they provided.

“My parents are an inspiration to me, particularly my father. When it comes to business and perseverance, to work hard, to do excellently, and to commit to being honest and forthright, my parents really taught me how to navigate through this world in a way that is honourable. That, to me, is part of our heritage and how we are brought up. It speaks to the concept of us being ‘likkle but tallawah’,” she said.

Contact Wellspring Manor and Spa at or on Instagram @wellspringmanorandspa

Send feedback to [email protected]


What To Read Next