Michael Cogswell, Director of the Louis Armstron Home

Letter from Michael Cogswell, Director of the Louis Armstrong Home and Archive in Corona, Queens, NYC. The Louis Armstrong home is one of the finest historical jazz museums in the country. Visit the Satchmo website.

20 January 2004

Historic Preservation Commission
Town of Huntington
Huntington, NY 11743

Dear Members of the Commission:

Please know that I enthusiastically support any efforts made to preserve the Dix Hills home of John Coltrane.

John Coltrane is unquestionably one of the few giants in the history of western music. His musical innovations and achievements place him in the pantheon of musicians that includes Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Mozart, Beethoven, and selected others. Any jazz history book can provide the details. 

Coltrane occupied his Dix Hills home from 1964 until his untimely death at the age of 40 in 1967. These years were some of the most exciting in his career and the fruits of these years are today preserved in recordings, including A Love Supreme (one of the most significant albums in jazz history), Ascension, Meditations, and Live at the Village Vanguard Again.

As the Director of the Louis Armstrong House and Archives for the past twelve years, I have been involved in the preservation of America’s jazz legacy as a museum director, archivist, and historian. During the past twenty years, our nation has experienced a renaissance in thought about jazz. A music which once was dismissed by many as an ephemeral music created by black people in nightclubs is now routinely studied in universities and presented in prestigious concert halls.

The preservation of jazz historic sites is the next wave of effort. The recent opening of the Louis Armstrong House, a National Historic Landmark and a New York City landmark, as a historic house museum has proven that the world is attracted to jazz historic sites. Since our opening in October 2003, we have had a steady stream of visitors from all over the world and are quickly becoming a desirable site for field trips by schools and senior centers. Opening the John Coltrane House as a not-for-profit house museum and presenting educational and interpretive programs there promises to benefit many generations to come.

I once took a jazz tour of New Orleans. To my shock, it was almost entirely an imaginary tour—“Over there used to be Louis Armstrong’s birthplace, but it was torn down in the 1960s,” “Over here used to be the famous nightclub Funky Butt Hall, but it was demolished,” etc. Please don’t let the Coltrane House be destroyed. It can never be recreated.

Thank you for your attention to my comments. Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can provide further information.

Most sincerely,
Michael Cogswell

Louis Armstrong House & Archives