"When you begin to see the possibilities of music,
you desire to do something really good for people." -John Coltrane
John Coltrane House
mission and history
The John Coltrane House is a recently formed federal non-profit
organization. We are teachers, preservationists, historians, and musicians. Our
mission is to preserve and restore John Coltrane’s National Historic Landmark home
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.
Coltrane's Philadelphia home is of the
highest importance among the many worthy Coltrane memorials worldwide because Philadelphia 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. They also
agree 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. 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.
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.
We hope to see you again! Check back later for new updates to our website.
There's much more to come!