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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 Photo, 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 Photo, 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" Photo, 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. 38° 54.937′ N, 77° 1.265′ W. Marker is in Shaw, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is on T Street, NW east of 7th Street, NW, on the left when traveling east. Click for map. Marker is 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 marker. Armed Resistance (within shouting distance of this marker); Griffith Stadium (about 700 feet away, measured in a direct line); Christian Fleetwood and Sara Fleetwood Residence Site (approx. ¼ mile away); Howard University Sets the Standard (approx. ¼ mile away); African American Civil War Memorial (approx. 0.3 miles away); Civil War Camp to Victorian Neighborhood (approx. 0.3 miles away); Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia (approx. 0.3 miles away); Frelinghuysen University/Jesse Lawson and Rosetta C. Lawson (approx. 0.3 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Shaw.
 
Also see . . .
1. Howard Theatre Restoration. (Submitted on March 31, 2012, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.)
 
The Howard Theatre undergoing reconstruction across T Street from the marker Photo, Click for full size
By Richard E. Miller, November 27, 2011
4. The Howard Theatre undergoing reconstruction across T Street from the marker
 

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
 
The Howard Theatre - viewed from the new Duke Ellington memorial at T St. and Florida Ave. Photo, 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 Photo, 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.
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on March 24, 2012, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. This page has been viewed 308 times since then. Photos:   1. submitted on March 24, 2012, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.   2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on March 31, 2012, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
 
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