Since it first closed in 1970, the Howard Theatre's fate has been as unpredictable as Cab Calloway's scat. After being named a historic landmark in 1973, the theater opened and closed several times, its stage finally going dark in the early 1980's, seemingly for good. Now, after years of work by Howard Theatre Restoration, Inc., a nonprofit organization, along with the District of Columbia, private developers, and DC residents, the curtain will go up again just in time for the theater's 100th birthday.
A representative at Howard Theatre Restoration told DCMud that the organization is in the midst of a fund raising effort that, if successful, i.e. if they raise the $28 million necessary to fully renovate the theater, will allow construction to begin this time next year. The District already gave $8 million to the project, and the organization can collect $6 million more through historic and additional tax credits. The District's contributions are part of a deal to improve the neighborhood, a commitment that will also bring African American-Owned Radio One to the District. Fenty signed a $144 million deal with Broadcast Center One Partners in January, the Radio One Headquarters will sit on the same block as the theater.
Built in 1910, the theater near the corner of 7th and T Streets, NW could seat 1,200 people. It was made specifically for African American performers, but was known as "The Theatre for the People" and hosted crowds of all races and performers such as Duke Ellington, Buddy Holly, James Brown, and Redd Foxx.
HTR's interactive website says, "Together with the City, HTR and its partners will reestablish the historic U Street/Shaw and LeDroit Park neighborhood as an art and entertainment destination where residents can live, work and play."