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Baltimore must preserve Cab Calloway house

Baltimore must preserve Cab Calloway house
Signs with messages, "CAB CALLOWAY," "HISTORY HIDES IN DARKNESS," "Black History was made HERE!" and "DO NOT DEMOLISH!" on the front facade of Cab Calloway's former home at 2216 Druid Hill Avenue in Baltimore. (Sameer Rao / Baltimore Sun)

Like others, I was astonished to learn that the famous jazz musician Cab Calloway grew up right here in Baltimore (“Allies join call to spare jazz legend Cab Calloway’s Baltimore home from the wrecking ball,” July 6). When I went recently to his Druid Hill Avenue boyhood home to do a photo shoot for Wikimedia Commons, passersby stopped to chat with me, a suburban white person, to express their evident pride in having the house of such a celebrated luminary of African-American heritage in their midst.

Every effort should be made to save it, not demolish it. Even if the rest of the block is razed and the Calloway House‎ is merely structurally stabilized with cosmetic restoration of the exterior only, that would be so meaningful to the community. As nice as a park named Cab Calloway Square would be, just imagine how much better it would be having the actual Calloway House as a visual centerpiece, perhaps with a mural of the jazz great on a side wall. What a great venue for impromptu music-making it could be for local hip-hop artists!

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Let's use our imagination to celebrate ‎Baltimore's rich African-American heritage by preserving such a tangible symbol for future generations. As we've already seen with adaptive re-use elsewhere, such as the B&O warehouse, Silo Point and Mt. Washington, preservation is key to enriching the urban environment and making it more inviting for locals and tourists alike.

James G. Howes, Lutherville

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