WIN: Muddy Waters MOJO Museum Momentum Finally Overcomes Delays with Approval to Buy Adjacent Vacant Lot

“The Muddy Waters MOJO Museum could get a new garden to host outdoor performances — if the city allows the owner to buy an adjacent lot.
“Museum founder Chandra Cooper and her team unveiled plans for the empty lot during an Aug. 30 community meeting. They hope to transform the lot next door to the 131-year-old house museum, 4339 S. Lake Park Ave., into an urban oasis with greenery, seating and a stage. A mural of the iconic blues legend would grace the exterior wall.
“Waters and his family lived on the first floor of the home for nearly two decades. It was built in 1891 and has been transformed into the museum through the efforts of Cooper, his great-granddaughter, and other supporters.
“But the museum will need the city’s OK to buy the vacant lot and make the garden plans come true.
“We’ve been using the vacant lot with no problems over the past two years for small performances in the early afternoon during the summer months,” Cooper said. “We’ve also used it as a healing space.”
“Cooper envisions a communal space where visitors can practice yoga and meditation one day and take in an intimate live show the next. Community organizations would be welcome to host events, and a gate would be installed at the front of the lot. The back of the property would be ‘closed off’ for safety, Cooper said.
“Edward Torrez, the architect overseeing the project, said he’s looking for input from residents to create a garden everyone can enjoy, with design elements reflecting the city’s blues history.

Muddy Waters House Museum Garden, 4339 S. Lake Park Ave. Rendering Credit: Bauer Latoza Studio
“The city’s planning department is in talks with the museum team to sell the vacant lot, though a price is yet to be determined, a spokesperson said.
“Cooper said she hopes the museum will get a fair shake from the city.
“‘What we’re doing is adding cultural value,’ Cooper said. “I hope [the city] takes that into consideration.'(Nesbitt Golden, Block Club Chicago, 9/7/22)
Preservation Chicago encourages the City of Chicago to sell the vacant lot to MOJO Museum for $1 in recognition of Chandra Cooper’s dedication in face of adversity and her fierce love for this important part of Chicago’s cultural heritage.
We’re thrilled that the long-endangered Muddy Waters home is finally receiving the financial support it needs to be restored. 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 33,000 signatures and other advocacy efforts played a decisive role in publicizing 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.

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