2001 11th St NW

African American entrepreneur and banker John W. Lewis built the building on the northeast corner of 11th and U Streets, NW in 1922. It housed a drug store on the first floor and in 1926, Night Club Bohemia started in the basement, quickly becoming famous for its variety shows. Its name changed to Club Caverns, the first of many avatars. In the 1950s, the club's name was changed to Crystal Caverns and then to Bohemian Caverns. In 1959, promoter Tony Taylor bought the club and booked many of the leading jazz musicians of the 1960s including Arethra Franklin early in her career, Bill Evans, Miles Davis, Shirley Horn, John Coltrane, Nina Simone, and Charles Mingus. In 1964, Ramsey Lewis recorded the album, The Ramsey Lewis Trio at the Bohemian Caverns. The club closed after the riots of 1968. Later incarnations were a disco club known as Frank's Cave and lastly as the Underground Cafe around 1970, when it was abandoned. It was reopened as a recreated Bohemian Caverns in 1998. Explore images from the George Washington University Special Collections and Howard University's Moorland Springarn Research Center, and listen to Rayceen Pendarvis describe the safety it provided to the LGBTQ community.

Club Crystal Caverns
Club Crystal Caverns

Courtesy of Howard University's Moorland-Springarn Research Center

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ClubCavernsAd1
ClubCavernsAd1

In Henry Whitehead et al, Remembering U Street: A Pictorial Reminiscence, souvenir from the 1994 U Street Festival. Courtesy of George Washington University’s Special Collections.

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ClubCavernsAd2
ClubCavernsAd2

In Henry Whitehead et al, Remembering U Street: A Pictorial Reminiscence, souvenir from the 1994 U Street Festival. Courtesy of George Washington University’s Special Collections.

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Club Crystal Caverns
Club Crystal Caverns

Courtesy of Howard University's Moorland-Springarn Research Center

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Rayceen Pendarvis- Bohemian Caverns, Part 1
Rayceen Pendarvis- Bohemian Caverns, Part 2