WIN: Muddy Waters’ Kenwood Home Designated as a Chicago Landmark

“The Chicago City Council landmarked the home of blues great Muddy Waters today, capping a months-long effort by preservationists and the musician’s family to gain official recognition of the historic house in North Kenwood.

“Mississippi-born as McKinley Morganfield, who took the stage name Muddy Waters, he bought the red-brick two-flat on South Lake Park Avenue in 1954 and lived there until the late 1970s, when he moved with his children to Westmont. It remains in the family’s hands 67 years after he bought it and is being turned into the Mojo Museum by Waters’ great-granddaughter, Chandra Cooper.

“While living on Lake Park Avenue, he had his biggest musical successes, including three singles that reached highest on the R&B charts: ‘I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man,’ ‘Mannish Boy’ and “’Just Make Love to Me.’ Waters influenced many blues musicians, as well as rock ‘n’ rollers, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and ZZ Top among them.

“The basement of the Lake Park Avenue building was rehearsal space, according to historical write-ups. Landmarking the house amounts to the city officially honoring ‘who this man was and what he did while he was living in that house,’ Cooper has said. Having official recognition from the city will also help her fundraising for the museum.

“The two-flat, built in the mid-1880s, was owned by the musician’s estate after he died in 1983. Cooper has owned the house since 2000, according to the Cook County recorder of deeds.” (Rodkin, Crain’s Chicago Business, 10/14/21)

We’re thrilled that the long-endangered Muddy Waters home finally has the protection and recognition that it deserves. Bravo to Chandra Cooper for her dedication in face of adversity and her fierce love for this important element of Chicago’s cultural heritage. Chicago collectively owes you a debt of gratitude for your efforts. We will continue to support this effort until the MOJO Museum celebrates its grand opening.

Preservation Chicago has worked very closely with neighborhood preservation partners and has played a strong role in supporting the effort to protect and landmark the Muddy Waters home. Additionally, our petition with nearly 33 thousand signatures and other efforts played a decisive role in blocking the proposed House Museum Ban ordinance that would have been devastating for emerging house museums like the Muddy Waters home, and scores of arts and cultural centers across Chicago. We continue to advocate for a Chicago Jazz, Blues, and Gospel Thematic Landmark District that would recognize and protect the places and spaces where Chicago musicians made history.

Read the full story at Crain’s Chicago Business

City landmarks home of blues great Muddy Waters: The North Kenwood home where the musician lived when recording his biggest hits now carries official recognition of “who this man was and what he did,” says his great-granddaughter, Dennis Rodkin, Crain’s Chicago Business, 10/14/21

Blues Icon Muddy Waters’ South Side home earns landmark status: Chicago’s City Council voted unanimously to preserve the historic two-flat building at 4339 S. Lake Park Ave in North Kenwood, Nereida Moreno, WBEZ Chicago, 10/21/21

Blues legend Muddy Waters’ South Side home nears landmark status, John Bryne, Chicago Tribune, 10/12/21

An unprecedented push to save historic Black homes is on; From Muddy Waters to Emmett Till, historians and activists want to memorialize the places where noteworthy Black people lived. The headwinds, however, are strong, Dennis Rodkin, Crain’s Chicago Business, 6/11/21

South Side home of blues legend Muddy Waters a step closer to city landmark status; The home in North Kenwood where blues legend Muddy Waters lived was granted preliminary landmark status by the Commission on Chicago Landmarks on Thursday. A great-granddaughter is converting the property at 4339 S. Lake Park Ave. into The MOJO Muddy Waters House Museum, Maudlyne Ihejirika, Chicago Sun-Times, 6/3/21

Muddy Waters’ Kenwood Home On Its Way To Being Named A Chicago Landmark; Waters’ family is working to turn the “epicenter” of Chicago blues into a museum, with space for a new generation of local musicians to jam, Maxwell Evans, Block Club Chicago, 6/3/21

Muddy Waters house gets unanimous boost from landmarks commission; The effort to get landmark designation for the North Kenwood two-flat next goes to the full City Council, Dennis Rodkin, Crain’s Chicago Business, 6/3/21

Alderman’s bid to restrict ‘house museums’ draws outrage from emerging tourism sector; An ordinance introduced by Ald. Sophia King (4th) to restrict “house museums” in residential neighborhoods has drawn outrage from a small but passionate community of existing or planned operators of such museums — including projects honoring Black history icons Emmett Till, Phyllis Wheatley, Lu Palmer and Muddy Waters, Maudlyne Ihejirika, Chicago Sun-Times, Mar 17, 2021


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