High Point Takes Giant Steps Toward Honoring Coltrane Legacy

High Point Takes Giant Steps Toward Honoring Coltrane Legacy

3:39pm Aug 30, 2019
Historian Phyllis Bridges (left), Michelle Coltrane, John Coltrane and Alice's only daughter (middle), and High Point Mayor Jay Wagner unveil the John Coltrane Historical Marker at 118 Underhill Street. DAVID FORD/WFDD

The city of High Point honored a legendary saxophonist on Friday. Following years of preparation, the official John Coltrane Historical Marker was finally unveiled. 

Under clear blue skies, there was a festival-like atmosphere in the historic Griffin Park neighborhood, the city’s first African American subdivision. There were food trucks, a local jazz combo performed, and across the street a mixed audience — by age, race, and gender — of roughly 150 people gathered at 118 Underhill Street. Many stood before the newly unveiled, black and silver metal plaque, some 12 feet tall, firmly planted in the front yard announcing the childhood home of world-renowned jazz saxophonist and composer John Coltrane.

Inside the renovated home, each room features a unique historical pop-up exhibit with photos and facts about the Coltrane family dating back to the 1800s. 

"The project was years in the making, but worth it," said local historian Phyllis Bridges.

"Personally, it’s saving another piece of our history," she said. "And it’s also exposing, educating about another piece of our history. Because we’ve lost so much in the African American community in High Point. It’s time to turn that around now."

Bridges hopes this marker will be the catalyst to transform the entire neighborhood. She says the newly formed Washington Street Historical Preservation Society will lead the charge, with plans already underway for revitalization efforts that she says will take the area to a whole new level. 

After the unveiling ceremony, people began filing across the street to listen to music, a warm-up for two days of live music outdoors that will take place this weekend during the annual John Coltrane International Jazz and Blues Festival.

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