From Tom Hay
Over in LeDroit Park Shaw, plans to rehabilitate the long abandoned Howard Theatre at 620 T Street NW appear to be moving forward. Just in time for its 100th anniversary, the theatre will be undergoing an extensive restoration. According to their web site, it will take an estimated $28 million to fully renovate and endow The Howard Theatre. The District of Columbia has already contributed $8 million.
The developer of the project is Ellis Development Group. The developer envisions the renovated Howard to be a mixed-use entertainment venue. The centerpiece of which will be a 600- person hall used primarily for live music events. In their development plan Ellis says, the restored theatre will be “Symbiotic but not competitive with the other stars in the constellation of Washington theatres, venues such as its sister stage, The Lincoln Theatre” (at 1215 U Street NW). Ellis will also be developing the adjacent United Negro College Fund project at 7th and S, above the Shaw-Howard University Metro station.
Of course everyone is wondering how the Howard will fare. It seems like the Lincoln has not found much momentum lately and the Howard could face competition from other popular live music venues such as the 9:30 Club at 815 V Street NW and the U Street Music Hall at 1115 U Street NW.
Among the notable performers at the historic Howard at the height of its popularity were Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald and Pearl Bailey. The Theatre closed after the riots in April 1968 and efforts to revive it in the 1970s were short-lived.