John Coltrane House, Museum and Cultural Arts Center
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Philadelphia, PA, May 3, 2021 – Strawberry Mansion Community Development Corporation (SMCDC) announces the completion of the John Coltrane Museum and Cultural Arts Center Site Feasibility Study for the historic Coltrane House located at 1511 North 33rd Street. The study was funded by a grant from the Community Design Collaborative of Philadelphia and includes structural assessments and conceptual designs created by the local firm Kelly/Maiello Architects. In partnership with the current owners of the house, the SMCDC aims to expand the footprint of Coltrane’s jazz legacy beyond his former home, by also preserving the adjacent houses along the residential row. For years now, questions regarding the future of the Coltrane House have been circulating within the preservation, jazz, local, national, and international realms. SMCDC has always viewed the house where Mr. Coltrane, his mother and cousin Mary lived, as a significant cultural and community asset that represents the community’s long-time relationship to jazz and Fairmount Park. SMCDC views the site feasibility study as the basis to implement its plan to restore the house as a museum, preserve the row’s architectural character, create a gateway to Strawberry Mansion and develop a world class venue where jazz can be heard, studied and appreciated.
Co-Founder Emanuel Kelly, and Associate Kathy Babcock of Kelly/Maiello state, “Aside from being thoroughly enjoyable, it was an honor to have been part of this study that involved dusting off an earlier assessment we did in 2013 and looking anew at the grouping of 6 properties and identifying their potential as a cultural arts center. Given its location as a literal gateway to Strawberry Mansion, it’s appropriate that the one-time home of a complicated man whose heady music grabbed a city and the world by its ears should be the first thing one encounters as they enter this neighborhood that has served as an incubator for so much talent over the years.” Tonnetta Graham, President of the SMCDC, expressed that, “The Coltrane House has always been of great importance and concern for Strawberry Mansion residents. We loved Cousin Mary and enjoyed the jazz concerts she sponsored along with the John Coltrane Society. We are grateful to have connected with the Gadson family to explore the opportunity to create something even more special at this site.” Ms. Graham emphasizes the owner’s commitment to both the jazz and Strawberry Mansion community. “Having the family on board enriches the planning and development for the house museum and cultural center. We are excited about this collaboration.” Aminta Gadson, heir to the estate echoes that sentiment. “While my family and I have had a challenging time maintaining this property, we are happy to have been able to preserve it thus far because of the value it holds. We hope and pray that as future stewards, SMCDC, can restore it and share it with jazz fans worldwide.” Jazz enthusiasts and preservationists alike are thrilled about the opportunities the feasibility study provides. According to Paul Steinke, Executive Director of the Preservation Alliance, “The Alliance fields more calls and emails about the John Coltrane House than any other historic landmark in the city.” The organization is, “so delighted that the Strawberry Mansion CDC has taken the leading role to ensure its long-term preservation, and pledge to support their efforts in any way we can.”
Staff from City Council President the completion of the feasibility study for the restoration and preservation of the John Coltrane House,” said Council President Darrell L. Clarke, whose 5th Councilmanic District includes the site. “The Coltrane House is very important to the character, the history and the culture of the Strawberry Mansion community. I’m glad to see all of the stakeholders, working together, to preserve the physical legacy of one of the greatest jazz musicians and artists of the 20th Century. We’ll continue working with the Strawberry Mansion community, with the Design Collaborative and with every involved stakeholder to preserve this critically important legacy for Strawberry Mansion and for Philadelphia.” SMCDC has begun strategizing their planning around the feasibility study. Future activity will include engagement with community stakeholders, embarking on a robust fundraising and capital campaign, and providing space for input from those who have longed to be a part of the Coltrane legacy. SMCDC has received a tremendous amount of offers for in-kind professional services and volunteer resources. The organization appreciates the outpouring and ask that volunteer offers of planning and professional services be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Look to the SMCDC for future announcements as they take their next “giant steps” forward.