The Blind Whino SW Arts Club is a multipurpose art and event space in Southwest DC, located in a historic black church dating back to 1886.
The Friendship Baptist Church is one of DC’s oldest African American congregations, founded by Reverend RS Laws in 1875 as the First Baptist Church. It changed its name to the Virginia Avenue Baptist Church in 1879 to distinguish itself from another nearby First Baptist Church, and in 1886 they broke ground on a new church building on H and 1st: a striking mish-mash of Queen Anne, Gothic Revival, and Romanesque styles. In 1905, the church changed its name to the Friendship Baptist Church, and finally a name stuck.
Throughout the years, the Friendship Baptist Church was a center of the community, hosting various civil rights meetings. In the 1950s and ‘60s, it was one of the only building that survived the major urban renewal project that razed buildings throughout DC. Then-pastor Reverend Benjamin H. Whiting argued that the church, the Randall School, and the Southwest Health Center were the soul, mind, and body of the neighborhood, which saved them from destruction.
By 1965, the congregation had outgrown the building; they celebrated their 90th anniversary by moving into a new building on Delaware Avenue. For years, the old church lay vacant, and in 2004, it was named a DC Historic Site.
Things changed in 2012, when Atlanta-based public artist Hence was commissioned by the building’s owner to paint a mural. Hence’s murals are huge, with brightly colored shapes completely covering walls and entire buildings. The work took two weeks, and the old, vacant church was transformed.
In 2013, Blind Whino, an arts and event center, moved into the space, hosting weddings, concerts, and art shows. In their own words, Blind Whino “serve[s] as the city's most hidden gem in the arts and cultural community and truly provide our gallery space for all.”
700 Delaware Ave SW
Washington, DC 20024