A Love Still Supreme, But a House in Ruins

There is a ranch house out in the middle of Long Island, just south of the expressway in Dix Hills, where the saxophonist John Coltrane lived, started a family and composed “A Love Supreme” in the spare bedroom. The album is a hymn of praise and thanksgiving by a man who found peace and God after alcohol and heroin. It is the work that helped make Coltrane a jazz immortal.

While it will live on, the house is another story. It has been empty about seven years. The bricks are crumbling. The raccoons have been evicted, but not the termites. Lexan panels cover the windows; a fan blows futilely to keep down the mold. That’s about as far as the restoration goes.

In 2003, a local jazz lover, Steve Fulgoni, helped wrest the house away from developers who coveted its three and a half woodsy acres. Thanks to his efforts, the Town of Huntington preserved the land. A foundation owns the house, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, but the National Trust for Historic Preservation just put it on its most-endangered list.

Mr. Fulgoni, an engineer, is teaching himself to be a historian and preservationist. He dreams of creating a cultural destination like Louis Armstrong’s house in Queens. There is no great enthusiasm in Dix Hills; some neighbors hate the idea of school buses and concerts on the lawn.

Long Island has lots of history, but does not do memory well. Walt Whitman’s birthplace is lost in the shadow of the Walt Whitman Mall. There are very few landmarks of its African-American history, beyond Booker T. Washington’s summer home in Fort Salonga and some cemeteries.

It is easy to share Mr. Fulgoni’s enthusiasm when you see the faded lime-green shag carpet in the practice room, and the living room’s fancy wood paneling. He estimates that he needs about a million dollars to do it. Meanwhile, if there are masons or carpenters who love jazz and could help fix things, he says, he would love the help.

Source: New York Times