True Reformer Building

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True Reformer Building
True Reformer Hall.jpg
True Reformer Building is located in Washington, D.C.
True Reformer Building
Location 1200 U Street, NW, Washington, District of Columbia
Coordinates 38°55′0″N 77°1′43″W / 38.91667°N 77.02861°W / 38.91667; -77.02861Coordinates: 38°55′0″N 77°1′43″W / 38.91667°N 77.02861°W / 38.91667; -77.02861
Area 0.3 acres (0.12 ha)
Built 1903
Architect John Anderson Lankford
Part of Greater U Street Historic District[2] (#93001129)
NRHP Reference # 88003063[1]
Added to NRHP January 9, 1989

The True Reformer Building is an historic building, located at 1200 U Street, Northwest, Washington, D.C., in the Shaw neighborhood.


It was designed by John Anderson Lankford. The building was commissioned by the Grand United Order of True Reformers in 1902.[3] It was dedicated on July 15, 1903.[4] During that dedication, the Reverend William Lee Taylor stated that the goal was to "put up a building in Washington that would reflect credit upon the Negro race."[5] It is significant that the building took shape as a result of an African American architect, with African American financing, and built with African American hands. The Knights of Pythias bought the building in 1917.[6]

From 1937 to 1959, the Boys Club of the Metropolitan Police of the District of Columbia, leased the building; Eleanor Roosevelt rededicated the building.[7]

Other tenants have included: Washington Conservancy, the DC Chapter of the National Negro Business League, the First Separate Battalion. Duke Ellington gave his first performance here.[5]

The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989. The Public Welfare Foundation bought it in 1999. It was renovated from the winter of 2000, until February 2001, designed by Sorg & Associates.[8]

Public Art[edit]

Duke Ellington Mural

G. Byron Peck's mural to Duke Ellington on the side of the building, overlooks the U Street Metro station.[6] It was completed in 1997, and located on the sidewall of Mood Indigo.[9] It was relocated to the True Reformer Building.[10] The mural is featured as part of a montage during breaks on WHUT-TV.


External links[edit]