Shaw had already begun to hum with new restaurants, and its vacant Victorians were filling up with families, when the chain-link fence around the decaying Howard Theatre came down at the start of a $29 million renovation, which was completed in 2012.
The additions of curving walnut walls, jumbo screens and a refurbished exterior have returned the 1910 theater - a centerpiece of Washington's Black Broadway that hosted Ella Fitzgerald, Lena Horne and Miles Davis when others turned them away - to its place as a star attraction.
The theater is now a destination for gospel brunches and performances by rising rappers. Look past the fancy cocktails and luxe banquettes, however, and you'll find one piece of the history left intact: the stage, the same one that hosted so many
performances during the theater's golden age.
- Lavanya Ramanathan
Getting there: The Howard is a block from the Shaw-Howard U Metro station (at Seventh and S streets NW). Street parking is limited because the theater sits in a mostly residential area, but options include valet ($12-$20), a nearby self-park lot ($15) and valet drop-off with a shuttle to your car at the end of the night ($12).
What to do:On tap every weekend are Sunday gospel brunches featuring the Harlem Gospel Choir and a buffet-style brunch with such dishes as French toast, grits and macaroni and cheese ($35 in advance, $45 at the door).
Tickets are available through Ticketmaster and the Howard box office from 11 a.m. to midnight daily, beginning opening day.
-- Lavanya Ramanathan (April 6, 2012)