Winter Threatens John Coltrane House
By Margaret Foster | Online Only | Dec. 10, 2009
A ranch house built in 1952 in Dix Hills, N.Y., may look modest, but it was the last home of jazz great John Coltrane.
The famed saxophonist and composer lived in the four-bedroom residence for three years, until his death in 1967. (It's also where he composed the epic album "A Love Supreme.") Today, having stood vacant for several years, the house needs top-to-bottom repairs.
"The home is secured, and it's alarmed. But without heat, every season that passes takes a further toll on it," says Steve Fulgoni, a Dix Hills resident who has been working to save the house for six years.
A former town historian, Fulgoni discovered in 2003 that the house was slated to be torn down for a subdivision. He helped convince the Town of Huntington to designate it a landmark in May 2004, saving it from demolition. The town went one step further, purchasing the 3.4-acre site from the developer of the subdivision in 2005 and creating John Coltrane Park. Ownership of the house was later transferred to the Friends of the Coltrane Home, a Dix Hills nonprofit whose board of directors includes Fulgoni and the Coltrane family. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007.
The house remains "miraculously intact" and unaltered since the last Coltranes moved out in 1973, Fulgoni says. Even the "meditation room," which John Coltrane built over the garage as a practice space, retains its colorful 1970s shag rug.
Fulgoni's group wants to turn the house into a museum where schoolchildren can learn about Coltrane's music and values. "We want to preserve the legacy of the man John Coltrane, and his wife, Alice, who were two people who really dedicated their lives to doing good, using music as their vehicle," Fulgoni says. "Unfortunately, it's not something we can do in small pieces."
Without money, Fulgoni's dreams remain at a standstill. He estimates that it will cost close to $1 million to upgrade heating and electrical systems, remediate mold, and install a new roof. "The fundraising has been pretty overwhelming," Fulgoni admits.
There may be help on the way. The National Trust for Historic Preservation's Northeast Office, which wrote a letter in 2004 urging the Town of Huntington to landmark the house, plans to organize a charette, or formal brainstorming session, to discuss the future of the structure.
"The potential for this site is tremendous," says Brent Leggs, field representative in the National Trust's Northeast Office, based in Boston. Leggs wants to "create some partnerships so Steve [Fulgoni] isn't doing everything by himself."
Donations can be sent to: Friends of the Coltrane Home, P.O. Box 395, Deer Park, N.Y., 11729 or call (631) 860-9200.
John Coltrane's Philadelphia House
In 1999, the city of Philadelphia designated as a city landmark the three-story brick rowhouse that Coltrane bought in 1952. Today the Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia is working to assess the Colonial Revival building and plan its rehabilitation.
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