The battle over Cab Calloway's former home has come to an end.
On Saturday, the City of Baltimore demolished a rowhouse where the jazz legend had lived as a teenager, marking a huge blow to preservationists and some members of Calloway's family. The Baltimore Sun reports activists and community members attempted to protect the home through a historical landmark designation; however, city officials ultimately decided the house—and other residences on the Druid Hill Ave's 2200 block—would be torn down as planned. Parts of the block will be transformed into a city park, which will reportedly be named after Calloway.
Calloway's grandson Peter Brooks, who was among those who pushed for preservation, said there simply wasn't enough "groundswell of support" from the community to keep the home intact.
"I knew it was going to happen but when you lose your foundation, it’s kind of shaky," he said. "The hope was that this could be an anchor for people in the neighborhood to brag about. The significance of his work is still in play ... It’s hard to imagine them doing the same thing to Babe Ruth or Edgar Allan Poe."
After the city announced its plans to tear down the home, activists filed a number of appeals arguing the home had historical significance. Baltimore officials halted the demolition back in April, but the court ultimately ruled against preservationists and the city proceeded with the tear-downs in late August.
"We posted notice for demolition in March of this year," a spokesperson for the city’s Department of Housing and Community Development told the Sun. "That work was halted after an appeal was filed. We then followed the established process and the hearing was held. The Judge ruled in favor of the City in mid-July. Once no additional appeals were filed, we proceeded with the work. Work on the block resumed on Aug. 24 and has been proceeding since then."
Calloway was an actor/chart-topping jazz singer who was most known for leading orchestras at the legendary Cotton Club in Harlem. His accolades include a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, an induction into International Jazz Hall of Fame, and an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from the University of Rochester. Calloway died Nov. 18, 1994 at the age of 86.