The Chicago home once owned by Muddy Waters is to be considered this week for a preliminary landmark recommendation. The property, at 4339 S. Lake Park Ave., comes before the Commission on Chicago Landmarks on Thursday (June 3).
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said of the home, bought by the blues titan in the 1950s: “This uniquely significant structure was an epicenter of Chicago’s contributions to modern blues, serving as Muddy Waters’ home for nearly two decades and providing temporary lodging and rehearsal space for countless household names that defined the art form.”
Crain’s reports that those lobbying for the recognition include city officials and Waters’ great-granddaughter Chandra Cooper. She owns the now-vacant home, which has fallen into disrepair. It’s hoped that a preliminary landmark recommendation will lead to the proposal being heard by Chicago’s City Council later this year. Cooper hopes to turn the house into the Muddy Waters Mojo Museum. The National Trust for Historic Preservation and Landmarks Illinois have awarded grants towards the property’s restoration.
Mississippi native Waters, born McKinley Morganfield, moved to Chicago in the early 1940s. He recorded for the city’s famous Chess label and became one of the prime exponents of the Chicago Blues sound. He bought the Lake Park Avenue property during an early recording heyday in 1954, the year he released the signature “I’m Your Hoochie Cooche Man,” and lived there for some 20 years. The house remained in his family after his death in 1983.
In January, the Woodlawn building once lived in by Emmitt Till, whose 1955 murder by two white men was critical in the expansion of the civil rights movement, was given landmark recognition by the Chicago City Council.
Maurice Cox, Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Planning and Development, observes of the Waters proposal on chicago.gov: “The individual landmark designation would further recognize the incredible contributions that Chicago’s African-American residents have made to social and cultural movements that continue to resonate worldwide.”