"Cecil Taylor" by micl is licensed with CC BY-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/
Dec 15, 2020
Now you can sleep where Cecil Taylor slept
The Fort Greene home of the free jazz pioneer, who died in 2018, is for sale at an un-free $2.5 million.
Taylor was already living in the home at 135 Fort Greene Place when he bought it in 1984. He lived there, in the heart of the Brooklyn Academy of Music Historic District, until his death at 89 in 2018.
The 21-foot wide brick house is one of a row of nine transitional Greek Revival and Italianate-style houses built circa 1857. This one retains its high stoop, brownstone basement and lintels, simple door hood and elaborately ornamented, bracketed cornice.
There are some hints of 19th century detailing still to be found on the interior as well — a marble mantel, glimpses of Greek Revival era moldings and an original newel post — but otherwise the single family home shows layers of 20th century alterations. That includes bookshelves in a third-floor space that was once dominated by Taylor’s grand piano.
Raised in Corona, Queens, Taylor first came to prominence in the late 1950s and ’60s. A prodigy, he began playing piano at age 6 and went on to study at the New York College of Music and New England Conservatory in Boston. He would infuse that classical technique into his feverish improvisation, becoming a driving force in the free jazz movement.
For a blast from the past, here’s a 1984 New York Times article called “If You’re Thinking About Living in Fort Greene,” published the year Taylor bought his home there and when renovated two-family brownstones ran from $150,000 to $250,000 (!): “Although several other brownstone neighborhoods around downtown Brooklyn have taken on new names, such as Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens and Boerum Hill, in an effort to put them at arm’s length from a decayed past, Fort Greene has remained Fort Greene.”
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