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Shaw in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

The Whitelaw Hotel and “the Duke”

City Within a City

 

—Greater U Street Heritage Trail —

 
The Whitelaw Hotel and “the Duke” Marker image. Click for full size.
By Richard E. Miller, April 22, 2011
1. The Whitelaw Hotel and “the Duke” Marker
Inscription.
They found a lobby with fine rugs and potted palms, a richly decorated dining room, comfortable rooms, and convenience shops on the first floor.

The Whitelaw was the creation of African America business entrepreneur John Whitelaw Lewis, who also built the Industrial Bank building on U Street. A former construction worker turned builder and financier, he raised the funds for its construction, and hired a Black builder and Isaiah T. Hatton, a Black architect, to make it a reality. Its restaurant/ballroom was a favorite choice for elite dinner parties and dances. The clientele included many of the famous of the day – Cab Calloway, Joe Louis, and the neighborhood’s own native son, Edward Kennedy (Duke) Ellington.

Duke Ellington lived on this block from age 11 to 18 – at 1806 13th Street, from 1910 to 1914, and across the street at 1816 13th Street from 1915 to 1917. While living here he chose music over baseball, soaking up the varied and rich musical traditions of the neighborhood. He was inspired and taught by his gifted teacher at Armstrong High School, Henry Grant, by traveling pianists hanging out in the local pool halls, by choirs and soloists in the neighborhood’s many churches, and by teachers at the Washington Conservatory of Music and School of Expression at 9th and T Streets.

Ellington
The Whitelaw Hotel and “the Duke” Marker - photo on reverse image. Click for full size.
By Richard E. Miller, April 22, 2011
2. The Whitelaw Hotel and “the Duke” Marker - photo on reverse
left for better opportunities in New York in 1923, but frequently returned to play the Howard Theater and other clubs in his old neighborhood, where his talent and magnificent style made him the hometown favorite. The Whitelaw Hotel, where he sometimes stayed while visiting here, has now been converted into affordable apartments by Manna, Inc. Its ballroom with stained glass ceiling has been restored to its former grandeur, and continues to be a community gathering place.

Photo captions, front:

[Upper right] Duke Ellington, seen here playing the Howard Theater in the 1930s, stayed at the Whitelaw Hotel (Photograph by Robert H. McNeil). At left is an ad for his band about 1920, before he moved to New York (Henry P. Whitehead Collection).

[Right middle] Page from the Whitelaw Hotel register with Duke Ellington’s name [1929]. (The Historical Society of Washington, DC.).

[Lower left] A woman seated in the Whitelaw Hotel lobby in the 1920s. At right, cooks prepare meals for the Whitelaw dining room. (The Historical Society of Washington, D.C.)

[Lower middle] Invitation to party at the Whitelaw Hotel [1936]. (Adelaide J. Robinson).

[Lower right] Announcement for “Saturday Evening Supper Dances”, and ticket for “First Annual Spring Frolic” [1941]. (Henry R. Whitehead Collection).

Photo
The Whitelaw Hotel and “the Duke” Marker image. Click for full size.
By Richard E. Miller, April 22, 2011
3. The Whitelaw Hotel and “the Duke” Marker
caption on reverse
:
The Whitelaw Hotel’s fine dining room, seen here in the 1920s, served residents as well as members of the community. (The Historical Society of Washington, D.C.)
 
Erected by Cultural Tourism DC. (Marker Number 8 of 14.)
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the Washington, D.C. African American Heritage Trail marker series.
 
Location. 38° 54.931′ N, 77° 1.787′ W. Marker is in Shaw, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is at the intersection of T Street, NW and 13th Street, NW, on the right when traveling east on T Street, NW. Click for map. Marker is on the sidewalk, on the corner across 13th Street from the Whitelaw building. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1839 13th Street, NW, Washington DC 20009, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Louise Burrell Miller Residence (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Edward “Duke” Ellington Residence (about 400 feet away); A Home Away From Home (about 500 feet away); Marlon Francisco Morales (about 500 feet away); You Had to Wear a Tie (about 500 feet away);
The Whitelaw Hotel image. Click for full size.
By Richard E. Miller, April 22, 2011
4. The Whitelaw Hotel
A Magic Place (about 600 feet away); Lincoln Theatre and Lincoln Colonnade (about 600 feet away); Ben's Chili Bowl / Minnehaha Theater (about 600 feet away). Click for a list of all markers in Shaw.
 
Also see . . .
1. Whitelaw Hotel. African American Heritage Trail, Cultural Tourism. (Submitted on December 31, 2014, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland.) 

2. The Whitelaw Hotel. (PDF) National Register Form. (Submitted on December 31, 2014, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland.) 
 
Categories. African AmericansEntertainmentNotable BuildingsNotable Persons
 
The Whitelaw Hotel and “the Duke” Marker image. Click for full size.
By Richard E. Miller, April 22, 2011
5. The Whitelaw Hotel and “the Duke” Marker
- view of the reverse side with the hotel building in the background across 13th Street.
The Whitelaw ca. 1919 image. Click for full size.
By Richard E. Miller, April 22, 2011
6. The Whitelaw ca. 1919
Built by and for African Americans
has been placed on the
National Register
of Historic Places
by the United States
Department of the Interior
July 14, 1993
The "Duke", Edward Kennedy Ellington (1899-1974)<br>Pianist, Composer, Bandleader, Jazz Great image. Click for full size.
By Via Wikimedia Commons
7. The "Duke", Edward Kennedy Ellington (1899-1974)
Pianist, Composer, Bandleader, Jazz Great
The Whitelaw Hotel and “the Duke” Marker reverse image. Click for full size.
By J. Makali Bruton, July 28, 2016
8. The Whitelaw Hotel and “the Duke” Marker reverse
Duke Ellington image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 29, 2014
9. Duke Ellington
seen here playing the Howard Theater in the 1930s, stayed at the Whitelaw Hotel.
Close-up of Robert H. McNeil photo on marker
Irresistible Jass image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 29, 2014
10. Irresistible Jass
“Furnished for our Select Patrons
The Duke's Serenaders
Colored Syncopaters
E. K. Ellington, Mgr.”
Ad for Ellington's band about 1920, before he moved to New York.
Close-up of image on marker
Page from the Whitelaw Hotel register image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 29, 2014
11. Page from the Whitelaw Hotel register
with Duke Ellington’s name [1929].
Close-up of image on marker
In The Lobby image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 29, 2014
12. In The Lobby
A woman seated in the Whitelaw Hotel lobby in the 1920s.
Close-up of photo on marker
Cooking image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 29, 2014
13. Cooking
Cooks prepare meals for the Whitelaw dining room.
Close-up of photo on marker
Invitation image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 29, 2014
14. Invitation
Invitation to a party at the Whitelaw Hotel from Jessie Adelaide in 1936.
Close-up of image on marker
Supper Dances image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 29, 2014
15. Supper Dances
Announcement for “Saturday Evening Supper Dances”
Close-up of image on marker
The Whitelaw Appartments image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 29, 2014
16. The Whitelaw Appartments
The Whitelaw image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 29, 2014
17. The Whitelaw
Professionally Managed by
William C. Smith & Co.
Equal Housing Opportunity
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. This page has been viewed 954 times since then and 5 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on , by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.   7. submitted on , by J. J. Prats of Springfield, Virginia.   8. submitted on , by J. Makali Bruton of Querétaro, Mexico.   9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17. 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 July 29, 2016.
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