|By nikki (18.104.22.168) on Thursday, May 01, 2003 - 10:10 am:|
The following was sent to me this morning by Jim Ellis (Satintones lead). Thought this might be of some interest on this forum. Nikki
D.C. Turns Its Back on Its Heritage
By Courtland Milloy
Wednesday, April 30, 2003; Page B01
The apartment in Northeast Washington where singer Marvin Gaye grew up is about to be demolished to make way for a parking lot. Yet another historic landmark is about to become a pile of rubble.
"The developer says he is surprised that no one has even mentioned the idea of preserving Gaye's home, and says he needs to hear right away if people think this is important," Steve Coleman, a preservationist, wrote in a recent e-mail.
What, as Gaye himself might ask, is going on?
In Columbus, Ga., a group called the Friends of Ma Rainey got together with city officials a few years ago and raised $150,000 in public and private money to renovate the home of Gertrude "Ma" Rainey, the woman known as "the Mother of the Blues."
In Grand Rapids, Mich., private groups and many residents recently combined resources to restore the birthplace of one Frances Ethel Gumm, who went on to become "America's Treasure" as Judy Garland. The home now has a gift shop offering items inspired by Garland's 1939 classic movie, "The Wizard of Oz," and a room where a pianist plays popular tunes from Garland's childhood.
In Carroll County, Miss., the granddaughter of blues legend John Hurt got together with People's Bank and Trust to restore Hurt's shotgun shack, located on a hill in tiny Avalon.
There are so many ways to save a historic home. In New Orleans, activists organized an African American Heritage Preservation Program, which restores such properties.
But in the nation's capital, birthplace of some of the nation's most gifted African American writers, artists, musicians and scholars, mustering the will to honor their legacies has never seemed more difficult.
Just last year, a Victorian rowhouse at 901 R St. NW, once known as the Louis Thomas Cabaret, where D.C. native Duke Ellington got his start as a piano player for hire, was demolished by city officials who had no sense of the property's historic significance.
Now it seems that Marvin Gaye's home is about to fall under the bulldozer's blade.
The Gaye home, at 12 60th St. NE, is a brick, two-story apartment building, part of the now-vacant 577-unit East Capitol Dwellings public housing complex. It could easily be turned into a museum, a tribute to Gaye, who died in 1984 and whose sensitivity to injustice was honed in Washington and later expressed with great passion and power through his music.
Gaye, who began singing at age 3, was a member of the Randall Junior High Glee Club and also part of a singing group at Cardozo High. His family moved into the Dwellings in the 1950s, when he was a teenager, after their apartment in Southwest Washington was razed.
"It is here [in the Dwellings] that long-ago neighbors remember Marvin going down beside the stream in the section of Watts Branch Park known as 'The Greenfield,' " wrote Coleman, who runs a preservation organization called Washington Parks &People. "He would sit in the park and play music for hours."
That stream, in which floated refuse from Maryland, may well have been the inspiration for his concern about ecology. And the poverty surrounding him in the Dwellings no doubt planted the seeds of his insight about injustice in America.
Efforts to save the Gaye apartment ought to be no less intense than the impressive, ongoing efforts to preserve the mansion of composer George M. Cohan on Long Island. A group called the Committee to Preserve the Cohan Property is lobbying politicians for a historic designation while seeking to raise money to buy the property.
"Why don't more people care about place?" asked Kathy Smith, head of the D.C. Tourism and Heritage Coalition. "How do we decide who is worthy? Usually, it's the people in power who decide who the heroes are."
Odd, then, that a black-run city government would be so slow to recognize the worth of Marvin Gaye's home.
In 1999, after a 55-year-old woman was shot to death while shielding children from a gunfight in East Capitol Dwellings, the District government speeded up its plans to rebuild the complex as mixed-income housing and a commercial strip anchored by a supermarket.
But in the haste to forget the ugly past, part of the beauty of the place is about to be lost.
"It is awe-inspiring to look at," Coleman wrote of the Gaye house. "But look quickly. The house may be gone by next week."
© 2003 The Washington Post Company
|By Vickie (22.214.171.124) on Thursday, May 01, 2003 - 11:26 am:|
I'd like to see his home preserved...
|By R&B (126.96.36.199) on Friday, May 02, 2003 - 11:34 am:|
THE EAST CAPITAL DWELLINGS WAS FAIRLY NEW WHEN MARVIN WAS BORN,BUT SADLY LIKE A LOT OF URBAN AREAS IT BECAME RUNDOWN AND CRIMERIDDEN WHICH IS WAY IT IS BEING TORN DOWN,THAT WHOLE AREA IS SLATED FOR RENOVATION,I USED TO LIVE IN THE AREA IN THE 70'S AND IT WAS ROUGH,MAYBE A PLAQUE OF SOME SORT CAN BE ERECTED ON THE SITE.MARVIN'S FAMILY MOVED ACROSS TOWN BEFORE BEFORE GOING TO CALIFORNIA,A HOUSE ON VARNUM ST.WHICH IS ACROSS TOWN IN AN UPPER CLASS AREA,MAYBE THAT RESIDENCE CAN BE GIVEN SOME RECOGNITON AS WELL.THE REASON MARVIN WANTED TO LEAVE D.C.IS THAT NOT ENOUGH WAS HAPPENING MUSICALLY,ALONG WITH DUKE ELLINGTON,D.C.'S FINEST SON,RECOGNITION IS LONG OVERDUE!
|By KevGo (188.8.131.52) on Friday, May 02, 2003 - 11:50 am:|
If the city of Seattle, Washington can honor their favorite musical son Jimi Hendrix with a statue in the park, that's the least Washington DC can do for Marvin Gaye.
Kevin Goins - KevGo
|By SoniT (184.108.40.206) on Friday, May 02, 2003 - 11:57 am:|
I agree R&B. That apartment on East Capitol St. is in a very bad area and I think a plaque would be nice. The house on Varnum St. is still nice. My grandmother lived on Allison St., which is a few blocks away.
|By R&B (220.127.116.11) on Friday, May 02, 2003 - 12:25 pm:|
HEY SONI,IT'S NICE TO MEET SOMEONE FROM HOME,WELCOME.
|By SoniT (18.104.22.168) on Friday, May 02, 2003 - 12:29 pm:|