Late legendary musician Muddy Waters played a pivotal role in shaping the landscape of blues music and efforts to preserve an integral piece of his story are moving forward. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, his former residence has been given preliminary landmark status.
The historic home—which is nestled in the heart of South Side’s North Kenwood community—was constructed in 1891. Waters, whose real name is McKinley Morganfield, moved from Mississippi to Chicago during the Great Migration and began to lay the foundation for his storied career. Morganfield went from playing music at house parties to becoming a fixture in the Chicago club scene. The release of songs like “I Feel Like Going Home” catapulted him to success and in the 50s and 60s he solidified himself as a power player in the music industry. He moved into the home located at 4339 S. Lake Park Ave. in 1954 and resided there with his family for 19 years. The residence served as a backdrop for significant parts of his journey. It was in this home where he raised generations of his family. The house was also a gathering place for other influential musicians including Chuck Berry and Otis Spann.
The residence is currently owned by Morganfield’s great-granddaughter Chandra Cooper who has plans to transform the house into the MOJO Muddy Waters House Museum; a space that would serve as an ode to his legacy. The project has taken a step closer towards coming to fruition thanks to the Commission on Chicago Landmarks.
“Muddy Waters was one of the most important figures in the development of the distinctive electrified sound that came to be known as the Chicago blues,” said Chicago Department of Planning & Development Project Coordinator Kendalyn Hahn. “Musicians who came to record or perform in Chicago made the home an unofficial center for the Chicago blues community, a community largely composed of African Americans whose gifts to the world not only shaped American popular music and subsequent generations of musicians, but one which gave the world a uniquely American art form, which speaks to the incredible resilience of the human spirit.”
Several efforts are being led to preserve the former homes of Black pioneers. In May it was announced renowned playwright and activist Lorraine Hansberry’s former New York City residence was added to the National Register of Historic Places.