Thursday, February 21, 2008

Louis Armstrong: The Louis Armstrong House In Queens

Louis Armstrong House
34-56 107th Street
Corona, NY 11368
Guided 40-minute tours start every hour on the hour (last tour at 4pm).
Closed on all Mondays and the following Holidays: Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. ADMISSION Adults: $8 Seniors, students, and children: $6 Group rate (eight people or more): $6 Current Members: Free
Many of the pictures of the house (at the beginning of the slide show come from the excellent nyc site the bridge and tunnel club
His wife Lil Hardin is also pictured. The music: One of the all time classics , "April In Paris, with Ella Fitzgerald accompanying Louie.
lyrics by Yip Harburg

I never knew the charm of spring
I never met it face to face
I never knew my heart could sing
I never missed a warm embrace
Till April in Paris, chestnuts in blossom
Holiday tables under the trees
April in Paris, this is a feeling
That no one can ever reprise
I never knew the charm of spring
I never met it face to face
I never knew my heart could sing
I never missed a warm embrace
Till April in Paris
Whom can I run to
What have you done to my heart

About the Louis Armstrong House from a nytimes article from 11/6/07
Louis Armstrong, the acclaimed jazz trumpeter and vocalist, bought a house in Corona, Queens, with his wife, Lucille, in 1943. He lived there until his death in 1971. The house was designated a national historic landmark in 1977 and a city landmark in 1983, the year Lucille Armstrong died. In 1986, the Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation, which she created, donated the house to New York City and made arrangements for Queens College to maintain it.
But it would take nearly two decades before the house, at 34-56 107th Street, opened to the public. In 1996, the college, which also administers the Louis Armstrong archives, entered into a 20-year agreement with Armstrong’s estate and the city to operate the house as a museum and study center. The Louis Armstrong House Museum finally opened on Oct. 15, 2003.
Louis Armstrong House MuseumThe Armstrong kitchen.
Even so, the house museum is quite cramped. It can only accommodate two groups of 10 visitors at a time; larger numbers of visitors cannot be accommodated.
To address the situation, the state gave Queens College, a part of the City University of New York, $5 million to start design and construction of a visitors center, on an empty lot across the street from the house. In July, the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs awarded an additional $5 million to the visitors center. The center is to be completed by 2010.
Last week, after a national search, CUNY officials announced the selection of Caples Jefferson Architects to design the new visitors center. The firm, which is based in Manhattan and has a staff of 10, was founded in 1987. Its two principals — Sara Elizabeth Caples and her husband, Everardo Agosto Jefferson — have worked on other sites in New York City, including the Weeksville Heritage Center in Brooklyn and Queens Theater in the Park.
Louis Armstrong HouseThe empty lot across from the museum will become a visitors center.
“You just have to listen to Louis Armstrong’s music to know why we’re so excited to work on a museum about him,” Ms. Caples said in a phone interview this week. “He’s the mother lode for so many different musical genres. That’s very awe-inspiring for us: the challenge of designing the building to embody the music.”
The neighborhood mostly consists of two- and three-story buildings, and Ms. Caples said her firm intended to be “quite respectful” of that context.
The visitors center will house exhibition space, Armstrong’s archival collection and space for jazz concerts and lectures.
“Louis Armstrong was not only a composer,” Ms. Caples said. “He couldn’t stop creating. When he wasn’t playing and composing, he was creating collages, writing novels and letters, recording music and conversations going on in his house. There’s an incredibly rich offering of things to exhibit.”
The new visitors center will be just 8,000 to 10,000 square feet, Ms. Caples said, “so part of the the challenge for us is to have the space work efficiently and do many things.”


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