The renovated interior at The Howard Theatre in Washington, D.C. (Photo Credit: Tim Cooper)

In its heyday, The Howard Theatre in Washington, D.C.'s Shaw neighborhood launched the careers of Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Marvin Gaye and The Supremes. But in the late 1960s, the times were a changin', and race riots and urban flight took its toll on the area, known as “Black Broadway.”

The theater, unused since the 1980s, fell into decay — the seats rotted aw...

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