The visitor experience here is as gracious, warm, and intriguing as the man himself, thanks to the marvelous guides (all ex-musicians and jazz historians) who lead visitors through the home every hour on the hour. The only house that this traveling musician ever owned, it was perfectly preserved after the death of his wife Lucille in 1983 (Armstrong himself passed away in 1971), and opened to the public in 2003. The sense that someone still lives here is so eerie that you may find yourself expecting Satchmo to emerge from the kitchen, turn on the stereo, and tell a joke.
In the course of your tour, you’ll hear about Louis's rags-to-riches history (son of a prostitute, learned to play trumpet in the juvenile detention center, made his name in mobster-owned clubs), and see the fairly modest two-story home that he and his wife lavished with every luxury, from custom-made 24-karat bathroom fixtures to Baccarat chandeliers and a state-of-the-art audio system. The highlight: recordings of everyday life that Armstrong made on his tape-recorder; your guide will play them as you wander through, allowing you to hear the family and visiting musicians talking, laughing, and jamming together.
- Pauline Frommer