Major metropolitan newspapers seldom turn their editorial page spotlights on matters to do with the arts—even more rarely when the issues concern jazz or jazz musicians. Over the weekend, The New York Times made an exception with an editorial about the fate of John Coltrane’s house in suburban New York. Some time ago, the house was officially made an Historic Place, but that designation did nothing to fix the building, which is falling apart. Here is some of the editorial:
While it will live on, the house is another story. It has been empty about seven years. The bricks are crumbling. The raccoons have been evicted, but not the termites. Lexan panels cover the windows; a fan blows futilely to keep down the mold. That’s about as far as the restoration goes.
In 2003, a local jazz lover, Steve Fulgoni, helped wrest the house away from developers who coveted its three and a half woodsy acres. Thanks to his efforts, the Town of Huntington preserved the land. A foundation owns the house, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, but the National Trust for Historic Preservation just put it on its most-endangered list
To read all of the editorial, which includes a slide show and a plea for practical help, go here.
As the Times points out, the house in Dix Hills is where Coltrane wrote A Love Supreme. That album celebrated his victory over the addictions that had controlled his life. It objectified his turn to spirituality and attracted to his music a generation or two—or three—of listeners. Here are Coltrane, McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison and Elvin Jones in “Psalm,” the final movement.