Minton’s Playhouse and an apartment building in Hamilton Heights where jazz pioneers Duke Ellington and Noble Lee Sissle once lived may soon be listed and landmarked.
Thelonius Monk, Howard McGhee, Roy Eldridge, and Teddy Hill outside Minton’s Playhouse in 1947. Photo via WikiCommons
Minton’s Playhouse on West 118th Street was the birthplace of bebop, an improvisational style of jazz, came to prominence during the 1940s. Over three decades, the club hosted famous house bands, star headliners, and informal jam sessions, according to the Landmarks Preservation Commission.
The five-story Renaissance Revival hotel where Mintons was located was listed in the Negro Motorist Green Book. Minton’s remained a center of jazz music throughout the 1950s and 60s and was the location where several important live albums were recorded by artists including Tony Scott, Stanley Turrentine, and Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis. The club stayed open until 1974 after a fire damaged the building.
The other Harlem building is maybe over the border into Hamilton Heights, but is deeply linked to Harlem is a limestone and terracotta apartment building at 935 St. Nicholas Avenue where for more than 20 years, legendary jazz musicians Edward “Duke” Ellington and Noble Lee Sissle lived.
Ellington lived in the building from 1939 to 1961, at the height of his career. Sissle resided in the building from 1950 to 1972, in the later part of his career.
When he lived in the building, Ellington wrote many songs that have become American jazz standards like “Sophisticated Lady” and “Satin Doll.” Sissle, who was a member of the Harlem Hellfighters during World War II, became known as the unofficial “Mayor of Harlem” during his time on St. Nicholas Avenue, writing for both the “New York Age” and “New York Amsterdam News” and hosting a local radio show.
‘The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad Way‘ Approved and Scheduled to Receive Sign
Gothamist reported on the recent controversial co-naming of 127th Street and Malcolm X Boulevard in Harlem as “The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad Way” supported by Councilmember Kristin Jordan. Opponents of co-naming this street after Elijah Muhammad referenced that Muhammad and others in the Nation of Islam had frequently espoused and encouraged anti-Semitic and anti-white sentiment.
Harlem’s councilmember stated: