When I first met the duo behind New York City Museum-a-Thon, they told me the best museum they had been to in their quest to visit and review all of New York City’s 180 museums was the Louis Armstrong House Museum. It was not only the best tour they had so far, but they also particularly liked how unassuming the house was compared to the fame of the man being honored. They write:
Here in Corona…[Louis] was left alone. This was the one place in the world where the great Louis Armstrong could take a break from his grueling schedule of 300 concerts a year and just go to the barber on the corner like a normal guy and play his trumpet on the front porch for the neighborhood kids.
For buffs of 1950s and 60s-era decor, a la Mad Men, the Louis Armstrong House is preserved very closely to how it was when Armstrong lived there. In fact, nobody has lived in the house since the Armstrongs. The house was decorated by Armstrong’s wife Lucille–the kitchen in bright Pantone-like teals, greens and oranges, a fabric heavy sitting room, and an over-the-top bathroom with gold accents and a porcelain shell-shaped sink. Lucille had originally wanted to live on the Upper West Side but there simply wasn’t enough privacy so they added a brick facade to the original clapboard house. I found this great vintage photograph of the Louis Armstrong House before it was bricked over on this Louis Armstrong-dedicated blog.
According to the Museum-a-Thon duo, the museum gives visitors an intimate look at the man himself while home recordings of Armstrong singing to family and friends play on a reel-to-reel player. Sometimes even the Armstrong’s good friend and next door neighbor will pop by to say hello to visitors.
If you’re looking for a little bit of magic, I recommend taking a visit to the Louis Armstrong Museum. The organization is part of Partners in Preservation, and hopes to use the funds from the competition to preserve Louis and Lucille’s garden. They’re “in it to win it,” the museum proclaims on their website and Facebook.
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Untapped Cities is an official blog ambassador for Partners in Preservation, a community-based initiative by American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation to raise awareness of the importance of historic places. Stay up-to-date with Untapped’s coverage of all 40 sites by following our Partners in Preservation category.