Sixty years ago, the Coltrane family moved into an unassuming house in Dix Hills now slated to be turned into a vistors center. NewsdayTV’s Steve Langford reports.  Credit: Anthony Florio

Nearly six decades ago, legendary saxophonist John Coltrane and his wife Alice, also an accomplished jazz musician, moved into an unassuming home on Candlewood Path in Dix Hills.

In the basement and second floor of the two-story, 4,000-square-foot brick and wood frame home, just south of the Long Island Expressway, John Coltrane unspooled his masterpiece work, “A Love Supreme,” and the history of jazz music was changed forever.

Legendary saxophonist John Coltrane and his wife Alice, also an accomplished jazz musician.  Credit: Michael Ochs Archives; Frans Schellekens/Redferns

“John and Alice's story is one of the American dream and of American success,” said Steve Fulgoni, of Dix Hills, President of Friends of the Coltrane Home, which is leading a massive restoration effort to bring the property, billed as the “The Spiritual Home of Jazz,” back to life. “You work hard, and you're able to be successful. And I think this house was just part of that part of that journey.”

Coltranes move to the suburbs

The Coltrane Home in Dix Hills on Monday. Credit: Barry Sloan

As the 60th anniversary of the Coltrane's move to Long Island approaches in July, historians, family members and those who have studied the iconic jazz couple are looking back on their cultural and societal impact even as the home's renovation needs to meet mounting expenses.

    WHAT TO KNOW

  • The onetime Dix Hills home of legendary jazz artist John Coltrane is undergoing renovation to restore it to its original glory
  • Family, friends and historians want to recreate the house in which Coltrane and his family lived, and where he created his album "A Love Supreme"
  • The renovation is ongoing and faces mounting expenses

In 1964, the duo made the decision to move to the Dix Hills home with their growing family from the city, purchasing a 3.4 acre plot with plenty of outdoor space for their three sons — John Jr., who died in a 1982 car accident, Ravi and Oran, and Alice's daughter, Michelle, from a previous marriage.

Huntington Town historian Robert Hughes said Dix Hills was largely undeveloped open space in the mid-1960s, with a handful of other Black families living on Candlewood Path. The site was likely chosen because of its proximity to the LIE, said Hughes, who sits on the Friends board.

“And that allowed them to get back into the city quickly when they needed to,” said Hughes. “They were trying to get away from the hustle and bustle. So coming out to a quiet country setting was, I think, what they were looking for.”

The kitchen inside the Coltrane Home in Dix Hills.

The kitchen inside the Coltrane Home in Dix Hills. Credit: Barry Sloan

The four bedroom home had a distinct mid-1960s America feel, with its shag carpeting, acoustic tiling and original woodwork and paneling, Fulgoni said. 

In an interview, Michelle Coltrane, who was a toddler when the family moved to Long Island, said she has distinct memories of her mother gardening in the backyard and riding in the family's station wagon listening to jazz.

I remember the music and all of us putting our feet in the saxophone cases.

—Michelle Coltrane

“And in the house, I do remember the smell of the wood from the construction that was going on over the garage and the recording studio,” Coltrane, 63, of California recalled. “I remember all the babies — my brothers — in the bassinet. And I remember the music and all of us putting our feet in the saxophone cases.”

Shortly after moving into the home, John Coltrane, regarded as one of the most influential and pioneering jazz artists of the 20th century, disappeared into a second-floor bedroom for five days. He emerged with the compositions for his legendary album, “A Love Supreme.” 

The room in which John Coltrane composed "A Love Supreme,"...

The room in which John Coltrane composed "A Love Supreme," is pictured at the Coltrane Home in Dix Hills Monday, Jan. 22, 2024. Credit: Barry Sloan

The location of the basement recording studio at the Coltrane Home in Dix Hills. Credit: Barry Sloan

The couple soon built a basement recording studio, utilized primarily by Alice — John died unexpectedly in 1967 of liver failure at Huntington Hospital at the age 40 — to help create five groundbreaking jazz albums, including “A Monastic Trio” for the Impulse! label in the late-1960s and early 1970s.

Alice Coltrane sold the home in 1973 and moved with their family to California, where she died in 2007. John Coltrane is buried at Pinelawn Cemetery in Farmingdale

Restoration underway for historic home

The Town of Huntington placed a historical marker outside the Coltrane...

The Town of Huntington placed a historical marker outside the Coltrane home in Dix Hills. Credit: Barry Sloan

There were two subsequent owners of the home, neither of whom made significant renovations, before the property was sold to a developer who had plans to demolish it for a subdivision.

in 2004, Fulgoni and other Coltrane fans launched a grassroots campaign to save the deteriorated home, whose historical impact had been largely forgotten.

A year later, the Town of Huntington purchased the property from the developer for just under $1 million utilizing open space money from the state, declared the site a park and deeded the home to Friends of the Coltrane Home, a nonprofit foundation.

It is listed on the National and New York State Register of Historic Places and is a locally designated historic landmark. The foundation owns the property while the town retains ownership of the land.

A historic marker placed at the home by the Town of Huntington in 2018 notes: “Musicians John & Alice Coltrane moved here in 1964. In this home, John composed the masterpiece 'A Love Supreme' and Alice made innovative recordings.”

The location of the basement recording studio at the Coltrane...

The location of the basement recording studio at the Coltrane Home in Dix Hills Monday, Jan. 22, 2024. Credit: Barry Sloan

In recent years, Friends has begun the process of an intense overhaul of the home, including replacing broken pipes and removing years of toxic mold. 

The next step, Fulgoni said, is to restore the home, including recreating the recording studio, bedrooms, kitchen and living areas. 

Steve Fulgoni, founder and president of Friends of the Coltrane Home, inside the home in Dix Hills on Jan. 22. Credit: Barry Sloan

The foundation received a $1 million grant from the Andrew Mellon Foundation, which allowed them to begin the construction, and in December obtained a $1.75 million grant from Suffolk County that will be used to restore the facade of the home, and reconstruct the recording studio and exhibit space — including the Love Supreme Room and the family's meditation room.

But even with the grants, Fulgoni said they're still at least $1 million short.

It's probably double what our original estimates were ... things have gotten quite expensive.

— Steve Fulgoni, president of Friends of the Coltrane Home

“Post-COVID, construction costs have skyrocketed,” said Fulgoni, who is continuing an international drive to secure the remaining funding. “It's probably double what our original estimates were. We're now estimating between $3 to $5 million. I would like to do it in less and be as economical as possible. But the reality is that in today's world is things have gotten quite expensive.”

Michelle Coltrane, who also sits on the Friends' board, said the family's time on Long Island, before the death of her stepfather and her younger brother, were the happiest of her life.

“The best years of our life were in that home,” she said. “We were whole. A whole family … That's the one time that everyone was living. It was a lovely part of life.”

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