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Petworth's Chuck Brown Mural to Be Torn Down for Apartments

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Across from the Petworth Metro, the Sweet Mango Cafe's Chuck Brown Mural has honored the go-go godfather since it was painted by students from MacFarland Middle School in May 2012, almost one week after the musician's death. Since the Sweet Mango Cafe closed down last March, the fate of both the building and the mural have been under wraps after Washington, D.C.-based developer Rooney Properties purchased the property for $2.43 million. Just recently, the D.C. Music Download blog reported that the mural will be replaced by a 21-unit apartment building, developed by Rooney Properties and PGN Architects. Urban Turf reported that the building will span 65-feet-high with five total stories. Each unit will range from one to two bedrooms. The development's ground-floor will have retail. Before the property's redevelopment, a restaurant called, "3701 Jerk Station," will inhabit the space. Washington, D.C. resident and Project Director of D.C. Murals Perry Frank told Curbed DC, "I'm very, very sorry to hear about the destruction of the cafe and the mural."

Chuck Brown was born in North Carolina to a housekeeper and a U.S. Marine. Living in poverty, Brown eventually moved to Washington, D.C. at the age of six years old. It wasn't until he was in his 20s when his love for music began after he traded cigarettes for a guitar in prison. Throughout his life, he worked a number of odd jobs, ranging from shining shoes to laying bricks. When he performed at venues, he avoided any dead air by keeping the music going and going with his signature genre, go-go. His songs have been sampled by a variety of well-known artists, including Ice Cube and Nelly. In an interview with The Washington Post, radio and television personality Donnie Simpson said, "Chuck was like the Washington Monument ... Chuck Brown really was Washington, D.C."

The Sweet Mango Cafe mural is only one of Washington, D.C.'s memorials to the musician. There is also a park dedicated to him, a street named after him on the 1900 block of 7th Street NW, and a mural painted on the U Street NW location of Ben's Chili Bowl as well as on an alleyway in Columbia Heights.