D.C.

The Howard Theater to be back in business soon

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The Howard Theater is back to 1910 on the outside, but back to the future on the inside. Very soon, its famed stage will be back in business.

The Howard Theater to be back in business soon (Photo: Kris Van Cleave)

Rev. Sandra Butler-Truesdale saw countless shows here over the years. It was something she wasn't sure would happen again in her lifetime.

“My mother bringing me to theater as a little girl of about five years old, the first show I saw was with Lena Horne who was then a dancer not a vocalist,” she says.

Opened in 1910, the theater was the first large venue allowing African American audiences and performers—it played host to music legends from jazz to Motown to soul. It was the anchor of what was known as Black Broadway. But, the 1968 riots brought about the end for the Howard—for more than three decades, the theater sat empty, rotting away.

Now, the theater is in its final phase of its $29 million renovation. There wasn’t much that could be saved—the original roof where a chandelier once hung, the walls, the balconies and ornate pillars—overall, the theater was given a totally new modern feel.

Back in 1910, the theater was billed as a place for the people—something The Howard Theater hopes to get back to very soon.

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