BY JACKIE STRAWBRIDGE
An expanded Louis Armstrong House Museum is ready for its downbeat.
A curving, glassy annex to the Corona museum is expected to break ground this spring or summer, director Michael Cogswell said. The project has support from Community Board 3 and local officials, and the Board of Standards and Appeals granted variances permitting its construction last year. Construction plans were filed on Dec. 26 with the Dept. of Buildings.
About $20 million in funds have already been raised for the project, according to Cogswell.
“It’s a game changer for the museum,” Cogswell said of the planned two-story, 14,500 square-foot building. “It’s going to allow us to present a full array of programs and services that we just can’t do in the little historic house.”
Located at 34-56 107th Street in Corona, the landmarked Louis Armstrong House Museum preserves Satchmo’s home that he settled in with his wife Lucille. Visitors can tour the house as it was while the couple lived there, while a collection of memorabilia and archival material are also on view.
However, due to space and climate constraints, many of the legendary trumpeter’s artifacts reside four miles away at Queens College. Many of Armstrong’s manuscripts, recorded tapes and a gold-plated trumpet are among the items that museum visitors have been unable to see on-site.
With the introduction of the annex, these artifacts will return to 107th Street.
“They’re coming back to Corona,” Cogswell said. “The entire second floor of [the annex] will be a research archives.”
According to Caples Jefferson Architects, the firm that designed the annex, other important features include a Jazz Club for live music performances and rehearsals and an energy efficient roofing system.
The annex will also help the museum address its growing visitorship, which Cogswell said expands 12 to 15 percent each year.
“Not a week goes by that we don’t have visitors from Brazil and Europe and Japan and you name it,” he added.
This project has broad support from local officials, including State Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst), who called the planned center “a magnificent addition to the Borough’s increasingly vibrant cultural scene.”
“The center will be a glittering jewel in the Queens crown, another compelling attraction to what is already recognized as the country’s best tourist destination,” he added.
Assemblyman Francisco Moya (D-Jackson Heights) said, “expanding the Louis Armstrong House Museum will encourage tourism in Corona and inspire our young people to learn about a cultural icon who chose to make his home in Queens. Louis Armstrong was a beloved Queens luminary, an artistic trailblazer and an important part of African-American cultural history.”
Reach Jackie Strawbridge at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 128, firstname.lastname@example.org or @JNStrawbridge.