Supporters are setting out to save jazz legend Cab Calloway’s Baltimore home from demolition.
The three story house in the historic Marble Hill neighborhood is slated to be demolished to make room for a park named in Cab Calloway’s honor. Developers and community members who support the decision to build the park say that the new green space would be a benefit to the community and help revitalize the neighborhood. Developers also say the park will commemorate the legacy of those who lived in the neighborhood. Bricks and marble from the Calloway house will be saved and incorporated into the park design. There is also a plan to attach name tags to trees planted in the park that would list famous people who lived in Marble Hill.
For some community members these efforts fall short. One person integral to the campaign to save the house Marti Pitrelli called destroying the Calloway home “cultural genocide.” Another important figure in the campaign is Cab Calloway’s grandson Peter Brooks. Brooks argues that preserving the history of his grandfather and turning the neighborhood into a destination for jazz enthusiasts would bring more economic development to West Baltimore than the new park.
Cab Calloway lived in the house from 1916 to 1921, formative years in his musical education. His 1931 hit “Minnie the Moocher” sold over a million copies and broke nearly every record for a song by an all-black band.