"When you begin to see the possibilities of music,
you desire to do something really good for people." -John Coltrane
Coltrane House Philadelphia
The John Coltrane House is a recently formed federal non-profit
organization. Our mission is to establish the Philadelphia residence of John Coltrane as
a publicly accessible historical site celebrating the life and music of this
extraordinary musician. John Coltrane's Philadelphia home
is of the highest importance among the many worthy Coltrane memorials worldwide
is the most important locus of Coltrane’s development as a virtuoso musician.
Jazz scholars and critics uniformly agree that it was
Philadelphia's rich and varied black jazz milieu in the 1940’s that nurtured
and schooled the novice teen reed player just up from the South and that this
tutelage was both indispensible to and inextricable from the remarkable
saxophonist he became. At the time, the country’s most accomplished and
innovative black jazz musicians met up, performed, and hung out in Philadelphia. Also, in
Philadelphia Coltrane took advantage of the excellent training in traditional
music available; he took saxophone lessons and studied music theory and
composition. In his highly regarded biography of John Coltrane, music scholar
Lewis Porter remarks, “Coltrane had unwittingly landed in the perfect place
to develop his art” when he moved to Philadelphia
from North Carolina
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 that was designated a National Historic Landmark by the U.S.
Department of the Interior in 1999 in recognition of Coltrane’s monumental
accomplishments as a musician and composer and of Philadelphia’s crucial role
in Coltrane’s career as a musician. 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. The Coltranes were the third black family to move
into the block. 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
house anchored and provided continuity to his life. This remained so
until, as a prosperous established musician with celebrity status, he
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.
residence was the repository of valued possessions and keepsakes
from his career as a musician and from his childhood in North
Carolina. After purchasing his Long
Island home, Coltrane continued to visit his mother and meet with
friends in Philadelphia. His mother lived in the house 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
the tribute to John Coltrane that she had maintained during her more
twenty-five years as owner. It was through Mary Alexander’s efforts,
Mary, that the House obtained National Historic Landmark designation.
The John Coltrane House Philadelphia 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.
We hope to see you again! Check back later for new updates to our website.
There's much more to come!