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The Louis Armstrong House Museum: Historic Mid Century Homes To Visit

Second in a special series of stories spotlighting historic mid century homes across America that are open to visitors.
Louis Armstrong’s home — with an interior that combines both “modern” and “modest” — is now open to visitors and looks to be well worth a visit.   The house, built by Thomas Daly in 1910, is located in North Corona in Queens, New York.  In 1943, Lucille Armstrong bought the house for her husband as a surprise – at an excellent price of $3500. Although Lucille got a bargain on the house, she and Louis had big $ ideas for the house. First, she bought the home next door and tore it down  so she could create a her giant Japanese garden. Louis had his own ideas as well, like the outdoor bar & grill that is still there today.
They added a large cornice that sits atop the second floor of their home, then eventually a third floor.

The interior of the home was lavishly decorated with items the Armstrongs had collected from all over the world. Some of the more notable items are a crucifix made by Salvador Dali, which sits in a special religious built- in, and a portrait of Louis by Tony Bennett. There are only two bathrooms in the house. However, they are no exception to the elegant theme — one was featured on an episode of Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous in 1994..

These beautiful steel cabinets were custom made by Kingsway, a firm in Brooklyn. The Armstrongs had all the new technology installed as well, including an unheard of combo stove-oven (brand: Crown) and  innovate built-in appliances like a Nutone food processor, to name a few..
Check out the built in shelving under the cabinets and the acrylic shelf in front of the window. Do you think the window trim was painted to match the cabinets or are they steel covers? Either way it is a nice touch. Off the kitchen is the den where Louis frequently used to record his music and hang out with his famous friends. In 1971, Louis passed away while sleeping in the master bedroom. Lucille happily lived in the home for 42 years until she died while attending a ceremony in his honor.

After doing all this research, I wish I would have tried to visit the Louis Armstrong House Museum while I was in Massachusetts with Aunt Pam. It sounds like a lot of fun.

Many thanks to the Museum, and especially to Lesley, who really helped out with the images. And, thanks to Reader Jason, who first alerted us to this house based on the article on AT: The Kitchn.

Read all our stories about historic mid century homes you can visit here.

NOTE: These photos are for use only in RetroRenovation.com’s blog post about the Louis Armstrong House Museum and may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, or distributed for any other purpose without written permission from the Louis Armstrong House Museum.

  1. pam kueber says:

    Hi BB, just to be clear, readers can also click the bright blue link near the bottom of our post that says “visit the …. ” to get to your site!

  2. William Sims says:

    Just to nominate another possible home, The Rosenbaum House in Florence, Alabama is a Frank Lloyd Wright Usonian house (the FLW building in Alabama) built in 1939, and is now a museum preserved by the city and open to the public. It may not fit in the standard Mid Century definition, but many of Wright’s design ideas were prototypical MCM. It’s a beautiful house.

    1. Joe Felice says:

      Thanks, Pam! Sherwin-Williams makes it easy to match, find & coordinate colors! According to S-W, Louis’ cabinets are “Impromptu,” SW6955. “Holiday Turquoise” (SW0075) is actually more aqua than turquoise. The color that most resembles what I recall as classical ’50s turquoise is “Calypso,” SW6950.

  3. Beth says:

    Hi there…great post. I love your blog :)) Just a quick question – what year did Louis Armstrong’s wife die? You say 42 years after he did in ’71…..did you mean 24 years later? That kitchen is fabulous.

    Too bad when you were here in MA, you didn’t make a jaunt up to Manchester, NH to see the Frank Lloyd Wright Usonian home there. Built for the Zimmerman family, and now owned by Currier Museum of Art, it is a time capsule of a 1950 house. The kitchen is a tiny galley, and there is no pink or blue tile in the house!

    1. Zoe says:

      I think what that meant is that she lived there for 42 years, all told (not 42 years AFTER Louis died). She bought it in 1943 if I read the article correctly, so that would mean she died in 1985. That sounds about right to me.

    2. Lynda says:

      Thanks for your mention of the Zimmerman House, Currier Art Museum. I looked at the site and it was a joy to see the simple, uncluttered beauty of the architecture, landscape and setting, the furniture and built inns are so calming. I was surprised with the wall to wall carpet. It is probably a lovely wool.

  4. Russ says:

    The built in steel accessories to the left of the sink are for paper towels (upper) and tin foil and Saran Wrap (lower). They were manufactured by Marchand Inc. in NYC. I only know this because I picked up a single paper towel holder just like the ones shown over the weekend. I found it at the Springfield Restore along with a NOS Hall-Mack Aristocrome grab bar and soap holder No.465. Thanks for the restore post Mathew!! I think that place is developing a mythical status in the retrorenovation world.

  5. Ann B says:

    Just saw this posted to Facebook. Great pictures. Love the matching blue clock in the kitchen. I had a Nutone food processor for years in a previous home. It came with various attachments. Worked great and was nifty having it built in. Wonder if they still make them? I’d love to have the doors on the living room.

  6. Joe Felice says:

    Who knew Satchmo had a flair for interior design? I wish I knew what color those cabinets are, but would settle for knowing the color of Pam’s cabinets.

      1. Joe Felice says:

        You’re kidding! Original finish??? How beautiful! I think the 2 colors are close, aren’t they? Thanks for the tip. I think this color would be gorgeous with yellow accents.

      2. Joe Felice says:

        Thanks, Pam! Sherwin-Williams makes it easy to match, find & coordinate colors! According to S-W, Louis’ cabinets are “Impromptu,” SW6955. “Holiday Turquoise” (SW0075) is actually more aqua than turquoise. The color that most resembles what I recall as classical ’50s turquoise is “Calypso,” SW6950.

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