The Louis Armstrong House Museum has enjoyed a marvelous evolution: What was once Louis and Lucille’s private home is now a National Historic Landmark visited by people from all over the world. Here’s our brief chronology:
The house, designed by architect Robert Johnson, is built by Thomas Daly.
Earliest known photo of the house, taken c. 1940 by the New York City Department of Taxes as a part the Works Progress Administration.
c. 1930s-1943
The Brennans, an Irish-American family, live in the house.
The house in the 1950s. It is not known exactly when the clapboard siding was put on.
Newlyweds Louis and Lucille Armstrong purchase the house and make it their permanent home.
Louis Armstrong passes away on July 6th, while sleeping in the master bedroom.
The house in the mid-1970s, after the Armstrongs covered it with bricks c. 1970.
The Armstrongs’ home is declared a National Historic Landmark.
Lucille Armstrong passes away while on a visit to Massachusetts to present an Armstrong scholarship at Brandeis University.
Concert program from May, 1988.
The Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation gives the house to the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and arranges for Queens College to administer the house. The Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation also donates Louis’s vast personal collection of home-recorded tapes, photographs, scrapbooks, band parts, etc. to Queens College with the provision that the College preserve and catalog the materials and make them available to the public.
The House in the late 1980s. Lucille added a third floor in the late 1970s, which was removed in 2002.
The Armstrongs’ home is declared a New York City landmark.
Left to right: Wynton Marsalis, Nabate Isles, Jimmy Owens, Doc Cheatham, Jon Faddis, Dizzy Gillespie, and Michael Cogswell.
Louis’s personal collection is transferred to the archival center of the new Benjamin S. Rosenthal library on the campus of Queens College. Dizzy Gillespie and Wynton Marsalis are among the guests of honor at the celebration. The College hires an archivist. Work begins on processing the collection as well as acquiring additional Armstrong materials.
Lionel Hampton and David Gold (President, Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation) cut the ribbon.
After three years of processing and cataloging, the Louis Armstrong Archives opens to the public on May 24th. Lionel Hampton is the musical guest of honor at the ribbon-cutting.
Left to right: Michael Cogswell, Bessie Williams (the long-time house care-taker; hired by Lucille Armstrong) Hillary Clinton, and former Queens College President Allen Lee Sessoms
Rogers Marvel Architects (in conjunction with the New York City Department of Design and Construction, the Department of Cultural Affairs, and Queens College) completes the master plan for adapting the Armstrong’s house as a museum. On December 1st, First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton visits the Louis Armstrong House and designates it an official site of the Save America’s Treasures program.
Buttrick, White and Burtis architects (in conjunction with the Department of Design and Construction, the Department of Cultural Affairs, and Queens College) completes the final design for opening the Armstrongs’ home as a museum.
Facilities Manager Kendal Albert standing in front of the Armstrong’s garage, soon to be Welcome Center and Museum Store.
Restoration, preservation, and renovation work begins at the House.
Left to right: Michael Cogswell, Jon Faddis, Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, Elizabeth Rolle (Lucille Armstrong’s niece), David Gold, Phoebe Jacobs (VP, Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation), and Queens College President James L. Muyskens.
On October 15, the Louis Armstrong House Museum opens to the public. Jon Faddis is the musical guest of honor at the ribbon-cutting. Lord Cultural Resources completes a master planning study for building a visitors center at a vacant lot across the street from the Louis Armstrong House Museum.
Jack Bradley with Louis in Chicago, 1967.
The foremost private Armstrong collection in the world, compiled by Armstrong’s friend and photographer Jack Bradley, is acquired thanks to a grant from the Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation.
Michael Cogswell with architects Everardo Jefferson and Sara Caples on the site of the future visitors center.
On November 13th, Caples Jefferson Architects (in conjunction with the City University of New York Department of Design, Construction & Management, the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York, and Queens College) kicks off the design phase to create the visitors center.