A campaign is underway in Baltimore, MD to prevent demolition of jazz legend #Cab Calloway's house, in which he and his siblings lived as a teen more than 100 years ago, as part of a project to create a park in his honor.
Calloway, who died in 1994, was a regular performer at Harlem's Cotton Club in New York City and led one of America's most popular #big bands from the start of the 1930s to the late 1940s. Calloway's band included trumpeters #Dizzy Gillespie and Adolphus "Doc" Cheatham, saxophonists Ben Webster and Leon "Chu" Berry, New Orleans guitarist Danny Barker, and bassist Milt Hinton.
According to The Baltimore Sun, five of Cab Calloway’s family members — including two of his three living children — issued a statement saying they are “building a coalition of partners and friends to create a landmark and thriving destination of which all the residents of Baltimore can be proud.”
“The legacy of Blanche and Cab Calloway is larger than these two individuals,” the family’s statement said. “Their legacy represents significant innovations in American music, Baltimore's Black cultural heritage, as well as an industrious spirit that serves as an example for generations to follow. We are confident that all parties involved can unite to preserve the precious history represented by this property."
The Sun went on to report that Calloway’s grandson Peter C. Brooks has led the family’s push for preservation, speaking out against a city- and community organization-backed plan to demolish the house, as well as the rest of the 2200 block of Druid Hill Ave.
Baltimore's Department of Planning and the Druid Heights Community Development Corp. hope to incorporate the land into Cab Calloway Square, a planned green space, and integrate bricks from the house in its design.
A spokeswoman for Baltimore’s Department of Housing and Community Development said “no immediate course of action [is] taking place” with regard to the house. Although it could be released for demolition at any point in the fiscal quarter that began July 1. She said the department is following the community’s lead regarding development plans — and plenty of time remains for new ideas to be considered.
Whatever they do, Cab Calloway's memory needs to be honored, and it seems like restoring the house as part of the park initiative is worthy of consideration if the needed funds can be raised.