“The Commission on Chicago Landmarks voted unanimously during its March 3 meeting to award the Muddy Waters House, 4339 S. Lake Park Ave., with a $250,000 grant for exterior renovations from its Adopt-a-Landmark Fund. This award follows last October’s designation of the North Kenwood home of legendary blues musician Muddy Waters (born McKinley Morganfield) as a Chicago Landmark by the City Council.
“Morganfield’s great-granddaughter Chandra Cooper — who owns the building and is leading the effort to convert it into a house museum — said during an interview with the Herald, ‘I’m hoping that this place will end up being a place (where) young people and old people, and lovers of the blues, and people who want to be educated about the blues will have an incredible safe haven to come… and to learn to listen and to just really understand who Muddy Waters was. And the legacy of who he is and the fact that he is the king of Chicago blues.’
“The Adopt-a-Landmark grant will be used to weather-proof the house, including removal of some exterior paint, concrete stair grinding, and re-pointing of the face brick on the main east facade, window repair and replacement.
“‘The work is expected to begin this spring and be finished by late fall. Once the work is done, ‘the first floor will be occupiable and we will be able to open our doors,’ said Cooper.”
“During the meeting Commissioner Tiara Hughes asked whether the vacant lot to the north of the house would be acquired as ‘an exterior gathering space.’
“Cooper said that the group behind the museum has had several conversations with Ald. Sophia King (4th) this week about the adjacent lot. ‘It’s hopeful that we will be able to one day obtain the lot. But right now there is nothing on the table for that,’ she said.
“The Herald reached out to King’s office for a comment about Cooper’s desire to incorporate the vacant lot, which is owned by the City, as part of the museum, but did not receive a reply by press time.” (Monaghan, Hyde Park Herald, 3/3/22)
In February 2021, the Museum House Ban ordinance proposed by Ald. King was defeated. If it had been approved, it would have directly prevented the Muddy Waters House Museum from moving forward.
Preservation Chicago is thrilled that the long-endangered Muddy Waters home has finally received the financial support it needs to be restored. Bravo to Chandra Cooper for her dedication in face of adversity and her fierce love for this important part 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 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.