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RESTORING A LEGEND

Many of New Orleans' historic homes, and legendary music locations, have already been demolished; the Professor Longhair house has been on various "Most Endangered" lists for years. Few other musicians are as closely associated with New Orleans, and the city's carnival culture, as Professor Longhair, the co-founder and patron saint of Tipitina's music venue. Fess' home - the only house he ever owned - took significant damage during Hurricane Katrina. Since then, his daughter and grandson have struggled to keep and repair the house. Tipitina's Foundation, United Way of Southeast Louisiana, and Project Homecoming are stepping in to help renovate and preserve the building, as a permanent home for Fess' descendants, a museum and shrine to Fess' musical legacy, and a beachhead for eventual renovation and restoration of neighboring properties. 

 

FESS' HOUSE

Tipitina’s is the house that Professor Longhairbuilt. Now you can join Tipitina’s, United Way and others in helping to rebuild Longhair’s actual home in New Orleans!

The Edwardian style two story double shotgun at 1738-1740 Terpsichore Street was the final residence of New Orleans rhythm & blues legend Professor Longhair. The building stands within the Central City Historic District and was nominated for local landmark status first in 2005 and then in early 2010 as one of one hundred Central City properties being submitted for listing as a group by the Historic District Landmarks Commission.

Professor Longhair, born Henry Roeland Byrd in 1918, purchased the house in 1979 during a major resurgence in his more than fifty-year musical career and lived there until his death a year later. It ranks among the former homes of Kid Ory, Buddy Bolden, King Oliver, and Jelly Roll Morton in Central City’s rich musical heritage. The Terpsichore house is a tangible connection his life and work and its preservation will ensure that his physical presence within the city will endure. Destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the home is currently exposed to the elements with broken windows and missing doors, and weathering the New Orleans climate without siding. Professor Longhair’s daughter currently owns the house and has plans for its rehabilitation - hopes for her success are running high from fans and interested parties nationwide.


ABOUT THE PROF

Professor Longhair was born on December 19, 1918 in  Bogalusa,Louisiana.  He was Justly worshipped a decade and a half after his death as a founding father of New Orleans R&B. Longhair was so down-and-out at one point in his long career that he was reduced to sweeping the floors in a record shop. He made a living as a street hustler until he started to play piano seriously in his thirties.

He taught himself how to play on a piano with missing keys so his style became distinct.

Fess debuted on wax in 1949, laying down four tracks including the first version of his signature "Mardi Gras in New Orleans." . His band was called the Shuffling Hungarians, for reasons lost to time!  He saw a group of his admirers buy a local watering hole in 1977 and rechristen it Tipitina's after his famous song. He played there regularly when he wasn't on the road; it remains a thriving operation.

Longhair went to bed on January 30, 1980, and never woke up. A heart attack in the night stilled one of New Orleans' seminal R&B stars, but his music is played in his hometown so often and so reverently you'd swear he was still around.

 

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