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What type of activities, exhibits, or experience would encourage you to visit the John Coltrane House in Philadelphia?
A few ideas: live music, memorabilia/artwork, an artist-in-residence program, etc.
The goal of the John Coltrane House is to preserve and restore John Coltrane’s National Historic Landmark home in North Philadelphia and establish it as an open to the public historic house museum and center for Coltrane and jazz studies and related performance and programming activities.
ABOUT THE JOHN COLTRANE HOUSE
In 1952, at the age of twenty-six, with the benefit of a G.I. loan, John Coltrane bought for himself, his mother, his aunt and his first cousin, the North 33 Street property. It was a big, beautiful house, built for a well-to-do middle class at the turn of the 19 century and a huge step up from the cramped quarters in a deteriorating area of town where the family had been living. Coltrane owned and lived in this home longer than any other during his legendary career as a jazz saxophonist and music composer. Also, it was during the years that he resided in the North 33 Street home that Coltrane, as a musician, became identifiably Coltrane.
When Coltrane left Philadelphia to further his career in New York City in 1958, the North 33 Street house anchored and provided continuity to his life. This remained so even after, as a prosperous established musician with celebrity status, he purchased a home on Long Island in 1964. Coltrane’s mother, Alice Blair Coltrane, remained in the Philadelphia home he had bought for the family during his lean early years as a rising jazz star until her death in 1977. Coltrane’s first cousin, Cousin Mary, then acquired and resided in the home until she sold it in 2004 with the request that it remain the tribute to John Coltrane that she had maintained during her years as owner by establishing the John Coltrane Cultural Society.
The John Coltrane House is pleased to continue and enlarge on the efforts of Mary Alexander. Our first task is to restore and preserve the physical structure of the House. Indispensable to that task, is to promote the crucial importance of the House to African American history, Philadelphia history, jazz history and jazz studies. We welcome and urge the support of Coltrane fans, jazz and serious music fans, arts aficionados, historic preservation enthusiasts, and arts, civic, and philanthropic organizations.
The skinny: All About Jazz, Hidden City Philadelphia, and the Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia have collaborated to present a series of articles on the local jazz scene that John Coltrane inhabited, developed in, and ultimately transcended between 1943 and 1958, when he called the city home.
Part 1: John Coltrane: Always A Philadelphian
Part 2: John Coltrane: There Was No End To The Music
Part 3 is coming soon...
I'm not a huge Coltrane fan, but i acknowledge Milestones, Blue Train, Kind of Blue, A Love Supreme and Sonny's Crib as some of the finest jazz ever created. If the house had some original horns and scores and such I would be interested.
Wow... I haven't been on here in awhile. I just moved to Philadelphia last month to begin my studies at UPenn, so this is fantastic timing for me to weigh in on this! If I'm not mistaken, they had the biographer of John Coltrane up there not to long ago. I think that kind of event is great and would draw me out there to buy a book and hear him speak on Coltrane. The main draw for me would be, if possible, hearing some live jazz from local players and hopefully attracting some bigger names to come through. Perhaps some tribute nights to the music he composed as well?
You could even put in a permit to shut down the block down and invite people out to recreate Ascension.
1) Living in Philly
2) A free lollypop
If I lived near the house I'd visit. Not sure why.
It depends on whether you are aiming at getting locals to visit or tourists from out of town. If you are aiming at locals, then you need to ask them. If you are aiming at tourists, then here is my answer as a longtime Coltrane fan, possible tourist in Philadelphia, and visitor to museums the world over: It would need to have a collection of the key Coltrane memorobilia such as his saxophones, early recording contracts, sheet music on display, letters to and from famous people on display, his suit from the Love Supreme cover, anything and everything that makes you feel like you are close to him that you can't get on a CD or off the web. In addition, it would be nice if there was a good cafe cum gift shop. Those make it more attractive and increase revenue stream considerably. You need to be honest about what kind of collection you have and what kind of traffic you expect. Unless you think it could be reasonably successful as a museum, then it is probably better to just have a nice plaque outside and keep it painted. Museums that are dark and have poor collections and are only open a couple of days a week don't attract many tourists and aren't really much fun to visit except to a few die hards. In general, houses of famous people aren't really that interesting to visit. They tend to have limited and predictable collections. In order to give you a better answer, you'd need to make clear what you have besides the structure. Do you have all the Coltrane papers? How many is that? Etc., etc.
I'm a local guy and I think it would be really cool if you had music playing for people in the background. I live in Philly and the main reason I have not visited it because I'm not sure what I'd exactly do when i get there. I mean, I just don't find it worththe trip if all I'm gonna is get out of the car and get back in just to say I've been there.
This may sound kind of odd, but I think it would be cool if you had life-size cardboard cut outs for people to take pictures with. Also, maybe a coffee shop area where people can sit around and talk about/ listen to his music.
I'm all for making the visit an experience.
A few quick thoughts of the top of my head...
I live about 90 minutes out of Philly, and I don't know if I'd be inclined to make the trip just to see Coltrane stuff, though that would be interesting of course... I don't know if it could work, but what about expanding focus to include Philadelphia's jazz history in general. Maybe include some history/memorabilia from some of Philly's other jazz greats as well, and some timeline/map of Jazz in Philly, or whatever could make more connections with the city's jazz scene- past and present. I'd be very likely to find the time for something like that.
I've been to his birthplace in Hamlet, NC, and to High Point, where his family moved at one point when he was growing up. If I'm ever in Philly, a visit to any abode having to do with Coltrane would be on my list. What makes pilgrimages like that even more worthwhile is memorabilia from his life (a sax he played, compositions in his handwriting, etc.), anything that would make his presence felt even more strongly.
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