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New Music Venue Opening in a Church Near Navy Yard

The location that used to house streetcars and is currently used as a church will be a space for music and religion

NBC Universal, Inc.

Many entertainment venues across the country went out of business because of the pandemic. Now a new venue is opening in D.C.

The new location is a unique partnership between a local church and a local concert promoter.

Many know the building at the corner of 8th and M streets SE across from Navy Yard as the Blue Castle.

The building dates to the 1800s when it was the turnaround for the streetcar system.

Now, the same space that once housed streetcars is home to church services and soon, concerts. It will be a state-of-the-art theater that can hold 850 people.

“1891, very historic building and kind of fun to restore this to its original use where people are coming in, and they are getting energy; they’re getting, hopefully, some faith. And, maybe it’s just some things happening in them and then going back into the city with, reenergized,” Joel Schmidgall, the executive pastor at the National Community Church, said.

The National Community Church owns the building.

“We’re not here to just build a church; we’re here to bless a community. So, we think of our spaces as gathering places where we can offer to the community a space that will add value,” Schmidgall said.

The church has a coffee shop and other community services inside the old streetcar facility.

“We have services here on Thursday night, then on the weekends as well, but we love with our spaces for them to breath and move and live throughout the week,” Schmidgall said.

Jon Weiss, a talent buyer for Union Stage Presents, a group of nightclubs in D.C. and Virginia, saw the pandemic's impact on independent venues across the country.

“It’s been awful; it’s been horrible, and to have an opportunity like this, to open a venue, we’re very fortunate. We're very lucky,” Weiss said. “We’re fortunate that they’re trusting us with their space and allowing us to be able to bring events of all different genres and calibers here.”

Tickets are already on sale for concerts at the Capital Turnaround, which will hold its first shows in September.

“We’re going to provide lots of different shows of comedy and rock and folk and hip hop,” Weiss said.

The partnership may be unique, but the pastor points out providing space for live music helps fund other services the church provides in the neighborhood.

“We have Miracle Theater, where we’re able to show second-run films, where kids and families can come and get the blessing of art. This is another step in that direction,” Schmidgall said.

Capital Turnaround was set to open last year, before the pandemic, and had sold out its first show, which had to be canceled. The show is now rescheduled for this fall.

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