Mother's Day Tea at the H Street Playhouse
1365 H Street, NE
Sunday, May 11
2:30 pm to 5:30 pm (included in ticket price)
Join other Tour participants for beverages and light refreshments. The “Not So Plain Jayne Trio” featuring Parker Jayne, Bruce Robey and Deborah Edge will perform from 3–5 pm.
H Street Playhouse
Adele and Bruce Robey
The H Street Playhouse occupies a building that was constructed in 1928 by William Oshinsky and leased to auto related businesses. The building first was occupied by Sam’s Garage and Moller Motors, and circumstance suggests that the building was built speculatively to capitalize on the demand for automobiles and the significant growth of the automobile sales industry. With the advent of the war and gasoline rationing the property was converted to a motion picture theater. The Plymouth Theatre, created as a neighborhood theater for blacks, opened in 1943 and closed in 1952. Morris Hallett was the architect for this adaptive reuse that took the former car salesroom and converted it into a 300 plus seat movie theater.
Subsequent occupants included King Furniture and the Jet Arena Roller Rink. Clements Printing purchased the property from Oshinsky in 1959 and remained there through the 1968 riots as a venerable business in the 1300 block of H Street until 1984. At that point John French, former Vice President with McDonald’s Corporation, purchased the property and opened French’s, a southern “Soul Food” restaurant (see photo, circa 2001, below). Many celebrities and noteworthy individuals from around the country visited the restaurant. The restaurant operated until the end of 2001 when the property was sold to Adele and Bruce Robey.
The Robeys, former publishers of the local newspaper, Voice of the Hill and proprietors of Phoenix Graphics, purchased the building with the sole purpose of converting it to a live theater venue. The opening of the Playhouse served as a catalyst for the long-awaited rebirth of the H Street NE corridor. During the past several years a group of artists and other professionals, including city officials and small businesses, initiated a new interest in the development of the H Street commercial corridor, a movement that is gathering steam to revitalize this area of the nation’s capital.
The building itself has received landmark designation. The home of a resident company, Theater Alliance (founded in 1993), the H Street Playhouse houses a 100-seat black-box theater, green room and dressing rooms, and gallery space in the lobby. The Playhouse (including the gallery space) is available for all local artists and community organizations to reserve as a place to share their work (pending availability). See www.hstreetplayhouse.com.
A sample of the theater companies who have performed or will be performing at the Playhouse include: Theater Alliance (in residence), Forum Theater, The Inkwell, Solas Nua, the African Continuum Theatre Company, the Journeyman Theater Company, the Capital Renaissance Theatre and the Madcap Players.
© Copyright 2001-2008, Capitol Hill Restoration Society. All rights reserved. Last updated May 6, 2008.
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