Satchmo's house celebrates 10 years as NYC museum
NEW YORK — To mark the 10th anniversary of the Louis Armstrong museum in the modest brick house where he lived for 28 years, curators are introducing one of the jazz trumpeter's most unusual artifacts — a plaster mask that had been stored in a cupboard for decades.
Armstrong, who documented his career in unusual ways, had the life mask with a painted bronze-patina finish made in the 1950s. David Reese, curator of the Louis Armstrong House Museum, said it reveals creases on his forehead, bags under his eyes and scars on his lips from a lifetime of horn-playing.
Museum officials aren't sure who made the mask, but Armstrong must have been pleased with it: photos show it hanging in the house at the top of the stairs.
His two-story home in the Corona section of Queens is remarkably understated for the charismatic performer whose improvisational playing style and raspy singing won him fame as far back as the 1920s.
The house and its furnishings, including a funky, blue wood-lacquered kitchen, are virtually unchanged from when Armstrong lived there with his wife, Lucille, from 1943 to 1971, when he died from a heart attack in his bedroom at 69.
The man known as Satchmo could have lived in a house with “a pool in the shape of a trumpet” but chose to stay in the working-class neighborhood, said Michael Cogswell, director of the national and city landmark.
“Louis wasn't treated as a celebrity here,” Cogswell said. He could go to the corner barbershop and “wait his turn in line with the other men from the community.”
When Armstrong's bus would return from a tour, children from the block would help carry his trumpet and suitcases inside the house. “Then Lucille would fix up bowls of ice cream for everybody, and they would watch Westerns together on TV,” Cogswell said.
A new visitor and state-of-the-art multimedia exhibition center with a 72-seat jazz club across the street is scheduled to open in 2016. The massive archive will be moved there, allowing its current exhibition space — the Armstrongs' basement recreation room — to return to the way it looked originally.
“We want to be in our own way the Graceland of New York City,” Cogswell said.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Ringling Bros. circus eliminating elephant acts
- Plane skids off runway at LaGuardia; no injuries reported
- Appeals court tosses gag order in ex-coal company CEO’s case
- Blankenship: US prosecution ‘selective and vindictive’
- Kidney donor sets off 6 degrees of salvation
- News Alert
- Early Obamacare tax filers catch break
- Natural gas royalties lawsuit hinges on transaction date
- Lawmakers press Veterans Affairs for improved access to rural health care
- Los Angeles rookie officer claims shooting victim grabbed his gun
- Physicians’ organization cites shortages of doctors will grow, mostly in senior care