By Emily Drooby
A space untouched by time and a melody that lasts forever.
“It feels like Louis and Lucille just stepped out for a moment and they’re coming right back,” explained Regina Bain, the executive director of the Louis Armstrong House Museum.
A museum now exists inside the former home of Louis Armstrong. It was made possible by his wife Lucille, who wanted to preserve his legacy. Employee, Frederick James Armstead Jr., told Currents News, you can feel him when inside.
“When I first got here, I went through the house,” Frederick explained, “you could feel, almost feel him in the house.”
The space is temporarily closed during the pandemic but the museum’s Executive Director Regina gave Currents News a tour.
Armstrong’s workspace and tape decks are in the corner and a painting by Tony Bennett hangs on the wall. Bennett and Armstrong were close. A preserved bedroom and Lucille’s gloves lay on the dresser. In the corner is a space to pray as Lucille was a devout Catholic.
“Lucille’s Catholicism was a big part of her life,” Regina said, “and she actually worshipped right around the corner from the house here.”
Where did Lucille worship that was right around the corner? It was at Our Lady of Sorrows in Corona, Queens.
Louis was more spiritual than religious, although researchers discovered he was baptized Catholic right after birth, likely because of his Catholic grandmother.
Before the pandemic, people from all over the world visited the space, drawing inspiration from his talent and his story.
“Slavery had just ended in the United States when he was born in 1901,” explained Regina. “He lived through the Civil Rights era. He lived through that time, and yet he was still able to become an American Icon that represented the beauty, and the innovation, and the excellence of this country. That’s who he is as a black person, as a black man and as a musician.”
Soon, visitors will be able to feel even closer to the jazz legend as The Armstrong Center is being built across the street and extensive archived sound will be on display.
An important legacy forever preserved in this quiet, Queens neighborhood.
The museum is currently closed to the public because of COVID, but virtual tours are being held online.
For more information about visiting the Louis Armstrong House Museum, just head to their websitelouisarmstronghouse.org.