Blanche and Cab Calloway Childhood Home Fights to Stand

American jazz singers, Blanche and Cab Calloway, childhood home, is fighting to remain erect following a rally on June 28, 2019. The community protested the demolition of the former jazz singers’ residence, requesting that it becomes preserved as a Historic National Landmark. The protest took place at noon, outside their old home in the Druid Heights section of Baltimore, MD. 

The Calloways moved to 2216 Druid Hill Ave sometime after the birth of their youngest sibling. Here, Blanche sang with the church and eventually went on tour; and Cab indulged in music and performance. These events were the start of their musical legacy, which began for them in the big-band swing era between the 1920s and 1930s.

This location led to accomplishments for the brother-sister duo. Blanche became the first female to lead an all-male big band— Blanche Calloway and Her Joy Boys. And even though they did not live long at this location, the home is the nostalgic birthplace for genres such as boogie-woogie and R&B that Cab emphasized in his techniques of musical production. Also, he became the first jazz performer to sell one million records and the first African American to write a dictionary— Hepster Dictionary. 

This building stands only two blocks away from Pennsylvania Ave, which is the designated the Black Arts and Entertainment District. However, the significance of the home became emphasized by Cab Calloway’s grandson, Peter C. Brooks. In a press release, he proclaimed if the house were revitalized, it would bring life to the community and the city, because it is an unacquired extension of the musical epicentre.

Peter C. Brooks, the grandson of Cab Calloway, in front of the former Calloway residence.

Brooks founded The Calloway Home preservation project when he discovered the home’s possibility of demolition. The project aims to increase funds to gain ownership of the house for restoration.

The City of Baltimore’s The Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation (CHAP) presented a condition assessment of the property on Tuesday, July 9. Lastly, on July 29, the team will report on the importance of the home with relation to African-American History as well as future plans for the former home concerning the greater community.

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