Nestled away in a residential neighborhood in southwest DC, Culture House stands out as a centuries-old chapel covered top-to-bottom in technicolor murals. With the colorful designs reminiscent of a Basquiat or Keith Haring painting, the building looks like it was taken straight from an artist’s wildest dream. While Culture House looks thoroughly modern today, the building itself actually dates back to 1886. It was the home to the Friendship Baptist Congregation for almost a century, and it was an integral meeting space for the Southwest’s Black community for decades.
Culture House is nestled in downtown DC and is a short walk from Nationals Park, The Wharf, the US Capitol, the National Mall and Eastern Market. The venue is located in Southwest Washington, and to get to this cultural haven, you can catch the 74, D-300 and P6 buses.
Facts, Curiosities and Interesting Things about Culture House
1. The venue is a survivor
In the 1950s, real estate developers tore down many historical Black churches in the neighborhood for highway construction—but the Friendship Baptist Congregation miraculously survived, thanks to the pastors and community members who argued for its necessity as a community space. It’s now one of the oldest buildings in Southwest DC.
2. The neighborhood has lived many lives
Before Culture House’s construction, the area that surrounds the venue looked very different. In the late 18th century, it was mainly used as an industrial shipping port were fisherman would sell the fish that they caught on the day. Decades later, Jewish and African American families moved into the area, creating a diverse and vibrant hub full of culture and character.
3. Culture House is a community art haven
While the Friendship Baptist Congregation relocated to a larger location at the turn of the 21st century, today the building has been reimagined as a community art space. The artist HENSE designed the dynamic and vibrant murals that cover the building on both inside and outside. It is also home to an art gallery that features local artists’ exhibitions regularly, and an outdoor space, dubbed the Avant Garden, that features local muralists.
What can you do at Culture House?
Culture House is mainly used as an multi-purpose events space that hosts an array of events all year round. From live music performances and comedy shows to conferences and art exhibitions, the venue can be rented out for any occasion. In fact, many artists from near and far including Matt Corrado, Mark Kelner and Kasey O’Boyle have used the creative setting as a space to share their art installations.
This spectacular building of color once played host to the enchanting Candlelight concert series. While surrounded by a sea of candles, the soothing sounds of live music echoed through this vibrant setting as gifted musicians paid tribute to the likes of Taylor Swift, Vivaldi, Hans Zimmer and more. While these intimate performances are no longer lighting up Culture House, they continue to illuminate other incredible venues in the city.