Mansion on O Street
Photo credit: J.P. Goss Photography

Celebrating a Rich Music History: The Mansion on O Street

What is the O Street Mansion? Structurally, it’s five interconnected townhomes boasting over 100 rooms and some 70 secret doors. But aesthetically, it’s something more. It’s a B&B. It’s a museum. It’s a private social club. It’s a free residence for artists. Renowned for its privacy and decadence, civil rights pioneer, Rosa Parks lived at the Mansion for 10 years. It is where Chelsea Clinton had her 16th birthday. But beyond all that, it is a place storied with a rich musical history. The rooms are crowded with memorabilia that includes signatures from famous clientele and even showcases one of Bob Dylan’s guitars. Wilco, Jackson Browne, Kenny G, George Clinton and Yusef Islam, formerly known as Cat Stevens, have all played at the O Street Mansion. It is where Paul Williams, the singer and songwriter behind classics like, “We’ve Only Just Begun” chooses to stay whenever he is in DC. It is also currently the home of the SRO Intimate Music Series.

The SRO (Standing Room Only) Intimate Music Series is a platform that encourages story-telling, audience engagement and connection on a deeper level with incredible singer/songwriters. The shows only take online reservations and never sell tickets at the door. The venue has hosted a diverse group of artists that covers the musical spectrum. “Our Intimate Music Series is special because it allows you to get up close and personal with these amazing singer/songwriters,” says Chief Marketing Officer Tracy Halliday. “They are evenings filled with music and storytelling from the artists themselves. This program makes great music in a variety of genres accessible — from rock, to opera, to country, to blues, to jazz and beyond — it is truly magical.” The lineup is certainly eclectic with recent acts that include Lenny Kravitz, alt-county rockers The Jayhawks, legendary singer and songwriter Emmylou Harris and three-time Grammy Award winning jazz bassist Esperanza Spalding. It has also featured John Kadlecik of Further, Jason Isbell and a rare acoustic set from the all-female Led Zeppelin cover band Lez Zeppelin.

These concerts support on-going initiatives like the artist-in-residence program. “We believe creativity comes in many forms — from writing music to problem solving and beyond,” Halliday continues, “individuals benefiting from our artist-in-residence program have not just been musicians, writers and artists, but have included lawyers, scientists, athletes and politicians.”

One of the most recent concerts occurred in October of this year and featured Blood, Sweat & Tears founder Al Kooper. The concert supported the Mansion’s Heroes program, a project that provides lodging and access to musical instruments for veterans and first responders.

Upcoming concerts include singer and songwriter Harold Payne on November 11 and The Bluegrass Jam with DC Bluegrass Union, a recurring concert on the first and third Sunday of every month. So check out a show at the Mansion or book a night in the John Lennon suite.

The Mansion on O Street: 2020 O St. NW, DC;