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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Shaw in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Howard Theatre

Lift Every Voice Georgia Avenue

 

—Georgia Ave./Pleasant Plains Heritage Trail —

 
Howard Theatre Marker image. Click for full size.
By Richard E. Miller, November 27, 2011
1. Howard Theatre Marker
Inscription.
The legendary Howard opened in 1910 as the nation’s first major theater built for African Americans. Audiences came for plays, variety shows, concerts, and movies. In the 1930s, under manager Shep Allen, the Howard became part of the segregation-era “Chitlin’ Circuit” that featured African American performers. Allen’s Amateur Night contests launched Billy Eckstine, Pearl Bailey, and Bill Kenny of the Ink Spots. Godfather of Go-Go Chuck Brown, the inventor of “DC’s own sound,” first worked outside the Howard Theatre as a young child, calling: “Shoes shined, shoes shined, five cents, a nickel, or a half a dime!”

As the neighborhood went, so did the Howard. Although the theater escaped damage in the riots of April 1968, audiences thereafter avoided the riot-scarred neighborhood. The Howard closed in 1970, reopened in 1974, and closed again. Rehabilitation started in 2010.

For years, the stage doors of the Howard opened to Wiltberger Street near the Wonder Bread Bakery, formerly Dorsch’s White Cross Bakery. Fans would linger amid the aroma of fresh bread and the promise of stardust, watching for performers bound for U Street night spots or an after-show soiree at Cecilia’s. This area’s bakeries included two others near Howard University: Corby (later Continental) and Bond Bread.
Howard Theatre Marker: close-up of seven legendary performers image. Click for full size.
By Richard E. Miller, March 31, 2012
2. Howard Theatre Marker: close-up of seven legendary performers
Baseball fans leaving Griffith Stadium remember stopping for fresh doughnuts on the way home.

Near the Howard Theatre at 614 S Street was Jean Clore’s Guest House and after-hours club. “Well-known dignitaries from every walk of life” stayed at Clore’s “swanky homey hotel,” according to the Black press of the 1930s. In 1982 the New Community Church moved into the building.

[Illustration captions: ]

Howard Theatre manager Shep Allen with Fats Waller at the Howard, 1939, as Waller presents a check to a Police Boys Club representative.
Scurlock Studio Records, Archives Center, National Museum of American History

1. Redd Foxx
Star Collection, DC Public Library; ©Washington Post

2. James Brown
Star Collection, DC Public Library; ©Washington Post

3. Ruth Brown
Moorland Springarn Research Center

4. Billy Eckstine
Washington Post

5. LaVern Baker
Washington Post

6. Leigh Whipper
Collection of Carole Ione Lewis

7. Chuck Brown
Washington Post

Hotelier and society figure Jean Clore, 1938
Afro-American Newspapers Archives and Research Center

A delivery truck for Dorsch’s White Cross Bread, 1926
Library of Congress

Cecelia
"Crowds gather at the Howard Theatre, around 1940" image. Click for full size.
By Richard E. Miller, March 31, 2012
3. "Crowds gather at the Howard Theatre, around 1940"
- close up of photo by Robert H. McNeil on reverse side of marker.
Penny Scott, right, with husband James Scott, right rear, and patrons in her popular restaurant and rooming house across T Street from this sign, 1958.
Collection of Henry Whitehead.


 
Erected 2011 by Cultural Tourism DC. (Marker Number 3 of 19.)
 
Location. Marker has been reported missing. It was located near 38° 54.937′ N, 77° 1.265′ W. Marker was in Shaw, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker was on T Street, NW east of 7th Street, NW, on the left when traveling east. Click for map. Marker was in this post office area: Washington DC 20001, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this location. Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington (within shouting distance of this marker); Dunbar Theater/Southern Aid Society (within shouting distance of this marker); Armed Resistance (within shouting distance of this marker); The Flower Garden of Washington (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Grief Turns to Anger (about 500 feet away); Willis Richardson Residence (about 600 feet away); Griffith Stadium Site (about 700 feet away); Griffith Stadium (about 700 feet away). Click for a list of all markers in Shaw.
 
Also see . . .
1. Howard Theatre Restoration.
The Howard Theatre undergoing reconstruction across T Street from the marker image. Click for full size.
By Richard E. Miller, November 27, 2011
4. The Howard Theatre undergoing reconstruction across T Street from the marker
(Submitted on March 31, 2012, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.)
2. Duke Ellington statue unveiled 3/29/2012 - Zachary Oxman , artist. (Submitted on March 31, 2012, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.)
 
Additional keywords. Ellington Plaza; LeDroit Park; Zachary Oxman , artist
 
Categories. African AmericansArts, Letters, MusicNotable BuildingsNotable Persons
 
The Howard Theatre - viewed from the new Duke Ellington memorial at T St. and Florida Ave. image. Click for full size.
By Richard E. Miller, March 31, 2012
5. The Howard Theatre - viewed from the new Duke Ellington memorial at T St. and Florida Ave.
The Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington Square image. Click for full size.
By Richard E. Miller, March 31, 2012
6. The Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington Square
newly constructed, east of the Howard Theatre Marker.
Howard Theatre Marker image. Click for full size.
By J. Makali Bruton, September 17, 2016
7. Howard Theatre Marker
The marker is unfortunately no longer in its previous location, potentially due to temporary construction as seen here by the Jersey barriers in front of the Howard Theatre.
Howard Theatre image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, June 21, 2015
8. Howard Theatre
Howard Theatre image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, June 21, 2015
9. Howard Theatre
The Box Office image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, June 21, 2015
10. The Box Office
Inside the Howard Theatre.
Chuck Brown<br>Godfather of Go Go image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, June 21, 2015
11. Chuck Brown
Godfather of Go Go
This portrait of Chuck Brown by Peekaso hangs in the lobby of the Howard Theatre.
B. B. King image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, June 21, 2015
12. B. B. King
The blues legend's autograph on a guitar on display in the lobby of the Howard Theatre.
The Jazz Man image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, June 21, 2015
13. The Jazz Man
This model of Brower Hatcher's sculpture can be seen in the lobby of the Howard Theatre.
The Jazz Man image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, June 21, 2015
14. The Jazz Man
Brower Hatcher's Sculpture atop the Howard Theatre.
Jazz Man image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, June 21, 2015
15. Jazz Man
Brower Hatcher's Sculpture
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. This page has been viewed 642 times since then and 163 times this year. Last updated on , by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. Photos:   1. submitted on , by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.   2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on , by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.   7. submitted on , by J. Makali Bruton of Querétaro, Mexico.   8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15. submitted on , by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on September 20, 2016.
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