Howard Theatre Community Day Apr. 9 – Duke Ellington Sculpture Looks Amazing!

620 T St, NW

Community Day @ The Howard Theatre is this Monday, April 9th:

“On Monday, April 9th, come on down and breathe life into The Howard Theatre’s Rebirth. At 11:30am, we’ll kick things off with a ribbon-cutting ceremony followed by live performances by Robert Thompson & The James Brown Experience Band, along with a host of other talents. Also, get a glimpse of The Howard Theatre’s magnificence, which will open its doors to the public for the first time in over 25 years.

For this special occasion, we’re closing down T Street to dedicate the recently installed sculpture of Duke Ellington and make way for fun and celebration. Hope to see you here at The Howard Theatre, on this Grand Reopening day!”

And last week a reader sent in some cell phone photos of the Duke Ellington sculpture going up in the plaza out front. I went back on Monday and my jaw promptly hit the ground. It looks amazing:

Remember when the building looked like this back in 2008:

Hard to believe this was a horse’s ass award nominee back in June 2009.

24 Comment

  • I love this little slice of DC.

  • Holy shishkabobs that’s amazing. When I lived around there, I hated that intersection so much because of the construction/hobos/general smell. That’s exciting for the neighborhood, as are so many other things. Bistro Bohem is also an amazing addition.

  • Love the Duke Ellington statute, except for the fact that it looks nothing like Duke Ellington. Seriously, it looks like an old italian guy to me. Great concept, failed execution.

    • HA! Agreed! A for effort. seriously, the intersection looks amazing.

    • I totally agree with you. I’m really dislike the statute and the Ellington mural on U Street. When Duke Ellington lives in Washington and played at the clubs on U Street, he was a young man. Both this statue and the Ellington mural portray him as an old man with sagging skin and bags under his eyes. I think both are rather disrespectful and don’t show him at his prime when he was extremely handsome and young. I just don’t understand why these artists want to portray him in his declining years.

  • fan freakin tastic

  • Looks cool. Anymore news on the parking situation and what is happening to the surrounding streets being re-zoned?

  • What a fantastic turnaround!

    It’s great to see this theater restored to its former glory.

  • Wouldn’t Ellington be a better name for the neighborhood than Shaw?

    • +1, that’s a terrific idea. “Shaw” has so many negative connotations that I doubt they will ever be overcome entirely. We should see about changing the name to something positive, positive for the entire community.

      • They (the city) would probably never just ix nay “Shaw”–be it for historical or sentimental reasons (heh)–but they might do an add-on or a contraction of srots: Ellington-Shaw; Shaw-Ellington.

    • Eh…disagree. Neighborhoods have histories and contexts, and as much as some developers (& maybe some new residents) would like to wipe the slate clean from the difficult times, the neighborhood is WAY more complex and interesting than that. Shaw is what it is, God bless it.

  • I wish DDOT had left at least one of the trees on the sidewalk near the front of the theater. It looks so barren now.

    • I sort of agree but why would you want to mask the front of this restoration. It’s too fantastic!

  • building looks beautiful. don’t like the statue.

  • Emmaleigh504

    I really want to like the sculpture, but I just don’t. His face looks creepy, and the piano leg doesn’t look right to me. I’m sure it looks better in person.

  • Hope this isn’t too political, but a week later, the VPOTUS will be holding a campaign fundraiser at the Howard, targeted at a middle-income young professionals. Only passing along because it is a good indicator of the potential for an event space like this.

  • I just wish they would turn that paved over portion directly across the street from the Howard into a small park or green space. Although, I wish the same thing about the triangular parking lot/abandoned auto shop right by the 9:30 Club on Florida Ave.

  • Why is the used cars sign still up across the street?!

  • Am I the only one disappointed that the old vertical Howard sign got moved off to the side so they could completely remake the entrance in a different style. I think it sort of takes away from the sign to have it shoved over to the side like that. One of the things I love most about these old theatres are those vertical lighted signs with the big lighted canopy beneath them (like the Tivoli and the Franklin both have). It looks like they are trying to reinvent the wheel here. I think the finished front looks more hotelish than theatreish.

    • This is what it looked like when it was first built. The canopy and the sign in the middle was a re-do later.

  • ledroittiger

    Am I the only one who hates this statue? Why does it have to be so “hip” and whimsical? It looks dumb. Whatever happened to respectful busts?

    Otherwise, I totally love the reno. The building and front planters looks spectacular.

    • I am anxious to see the Howard Theatre on Monday. I like the idea of the statue but his likeness is not there. It does look like an Italian man. His face was fuller.

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