Louis Armstrong House Museum breaks ground on new Education Center

Louis Armstrong House Museum breaks ground on new Education Center
Photo courtesy of Maria Matteo
By Gina Martinez

People from all over the world will now be able to learn more about Corona’s own “Satchmo” at the new Louis Armstrong House Museum Education Center.

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, Queens College President Félix Matos Rodríguez, and Louis Armstrong House Museum Executive Director Michael Cogswell held a ground-breaking ceremony Monday afternoon for the new $23 million, 14,000-square-foot Education Center.

The center will be located directly across the street from the Louis Armstrong Museum, the jazz great’s nationally landmarked Corona home, at 34-56 107th St.

The children’s choir from Our Lady of Sorrows’ Academy Summer Program gave a special performance of the Armstrong classic, “What a Wonderful World,” followed by a reception in the Armstrong House’s Japanese-inspired garden.

Katz said the new museum is a win for Corona.

“The Louis Armstrong House Museum’s transformative new Education Center and expanded programming will better serve visitors from around the globe and directly support the very community that Satchmo called home,” she said.

Rodríguez said the new education center will broaden the public’s understanding of Armstrong’s life and legacy. The center will house a state-of-the-art exhibition gallery, 68-seat jazz club, and museum store. The center will also house the materials in the Louis Armstrong Archives, currently at Queens College, which administers the museum through a constituency with the Kupferberg Center for the Arts in their archival center.

“The education center is a gift to Corona, to the borough of Queens, and to Satchmo fans all over the world,” Rodríguez said. “It was brought about by many offices, and we are profoundly grateful to all of them. Queens College has been a primary beneficiary of its association with the Louis Armstrong House Museum for many years. Our students conduct research in the museum’s archives—housed, until the education center is complete, in our Rosenthal Library—and interns from our Graduate School of Library and Information Sciences work with this material. We will be thrilled to reciprocate by having students from our jazz studies program present public concerts at the education center’s Jazz Room.”

The center, set to be completed in 2019, was designed by New York City-based Caples Jefferson Architects, a recipient of numerous commissions and awards, including AIA New York State Firm of the Year. The center’s campus will also include the home of the late Selma Heraldo, Louis and Lucille Armstrong’s neighbor, who lived next door to the Armstrong House from birth until her death in 2011 at age 87.

Heraldo bequeathed her home to the museum, which has since received a $1.027 million grant from the city to renovate “Selma’s House” for offices, meetings and storage.

Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmartinez@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.