BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Preservationists have uncovered more history they hope will help save the childhood home of the late jazz leader Cab Calloway from the wrecking ball.
A new book says the property may have also been the home of Andrew Reed, Cab Calloway’s grandfather and the leader of a civil rights organization pre-dating the NAACP.
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In 1884, six black women from Baltimore bought first-class accommodations on a steamship. The agents refused them service.
It was one of many events that led to the formation of the Brotherhood of Liberty.
One of the leaders, Reed, was believed to have lived in the home in the 2200 block of Druid Hill Avenue, which is part of an entire block set to be demolished to make way for an urban square.
Calloway’s grandson Peter Brooks, who has been fighting to preserve the home along with Calloway’s daughters Cecilia and Camay, said he didn’t know that piece of history when his fight for preservation began.
“I couldn’t believe that Andrew Reed from the Brotherhood of Liberty,” he said. “I had read about him because a historian on Twitter told me ‘Your family is up in this thing.'”
The discovery has led the Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation to seek a delay while they investigate the facts.
“The only question we have right now is we don’t have a way to actually place him in the house,” Brooks said. “Where it becomes interesting is the fact that Cab wrote in his autobiography ‘We moved from my grandmother Calloway’s house to my grandmother Reed’s house,’ so that makes us think it was probably his grandfather’s house but we just don’t have evidence of it yet.”
The legacy of Cab Calloway, the King of Swing and Cotton Club Band leader may also include Baltimore’s legacy of civil rights, which supporters hope makes the house worth saving.
The commission has reached out to the housing department and is conducting some research.