Jazzed About the New Louis Armstrong Center

Children from the Our Lady of Sorrows Academy Summer Program sing Louis Armstrong’s beloved “What a Wonderful World” at a groundbreaking ceremony for a new education center dedicated to the jazz legend. (Photo by Michael Gannon via Queens Chronicle)

Jazz enthusiasts, Queens College officials and politicians remembered Louis Armstrong’s legacy, and his life in Corona, at a groundbreaking ceremony for the Louis Armstrong House Museum Education Center on July 17. The site will open its doors in 2019.

The 14,000-square-foot center will be located across the street from 34-56 107th St., where Armstrong and his wife Lucille lived from 1943 until his death in 1971. (She lived in the house until 1983, the year she passed away, according to a New York Times article.) In a story on the ceremony, Queens Chronicle’s Michael Gannon gives more details on the Armstrong house, now the Louis Armstrong House Museum, to which the education center belongs.

Upon Armstrong’s death, Lucille Armstrong gifted the house to the city for the purpose of creating a museum. The interior of the brick building was designed largely by her. The backyard, where a reception was held after Monday’s groundbreaking, still features a garden and fish pond with a heavy Japanese influence. It was placed on the national Register of Landmarks in 1976 and on the city’s in 1988.

He writes that the center will have an “exhibition gallery, a 68-seat jazz club, a museum store and an archive.”

Gina Martinez, in reporting on the ceremony for Times Ledger, notes that items in the archive, known as the Louis Armstrong Archives, are currently housed at Queens College “which administers the museum through a constituency with the Kupferberg Center for the Arts in their archival center.”

Queens College President Félix Matos Rodríguez described how students have used the resources found at the Louis Armstrong House Museum.

“The education center is a gift to Corona, to the borough of Queens, and to Satchmo fans all over the world,” Rodríguez said. “It was brought about by many offices, and we are profoundly grateful to all of them. Queens College has been a primary beneficiary of its association with the Louis Armstrong House Museum for many years. Our students conduct research in the museum’s archives—housed, until the education center is complete, in our Rosenthal Library—and interns from our Graduate School of Library and Information Sciences work with this material. We will be thrilled to reciprocate by having students from our jazz studies program present public concerts at the education center’s Jazz Room.”

QNS reporter Elizabeth Costigan mentions another property that will make up the campus of the education center:

The campus will compromise the home of the late Selma Heraldo, a beloved neighbor of the Armstrong Museum. She lived next to the Armstrong House for her whole life of 87 years and remained a very close friend to the Armstrong family. After her death in 2011, she bequeathed her home to the museum. Her property will be renovated for offices, meetings, and storage, using a $1.027 million grant from the city of New York. The space will be named and always be called “Selma’s House” in her memory.

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