W.C. Handy Birthplace

620 West College Street, Florence, Alabama 35630

Preserved log cabin of the Handy family, expanded to a museum dedicated to the "Father of the Blues"

Photos 

Overview

Photo taken by J.R. Manning in March 2020

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Description 

"Where the Tennessee River, like a silver snake, winds her way through the clay hills of Alabama, sits high on these hills, my home town, Florence." ~ W.C. Handy

William Christopher Handy, "The Father of the Blues" was born in Florence in 1873 in a simple cabin that today houses a large collection of his personal papers, memorabilia, and artifacts.

Handy was born with a natural musical talent. As a boy he visualized birdcalls as notes on a scale. Handy went on to compose such well-known blues jewels as St. Louis Blues, Beale Street Blues, and Memphis Blues.

In 1905, Handy moved to Memphis and began playing in the Beale Avenue clubs. In 1909, he wrote a campaign song called Mr. Crump, named after Memphis mayoral candidate Edward H. "Boss" Crump. (Crump won the election.) The song was later reworked and became the Memphis Blues. Handy made a deal to get the song published in 1912.

In 1914, he wrote and published the St. Louis Blues outlining the hardships he'd experienced in St. Louis. St. Louis Blues became a massive success and would be recorded many times over the next several years. Other Handy hits include Yellow Dog Blues (1914) and Beale Street Blues (1916). He would eventually be credited with composing dozens of songs. Beale Avenue would later be renamed Beale Street because of the success of the song.

W.C. Handy's Memphis home was moved to its current location on Beale Street, restored, and is open for tours. Although this museum is not on the NRHP, W.C. Handy Home & Museum is listed.

Update Log 

  • March 31, 2020: New photos from J.R. Manning
  • March 31, 2020: Added by J.R. Manning

Sources 

  • J.R. Manning - Lugnuts969 [at] gmail [dot] com