Sun Ra, Marshall Allen house built back from partial collapse


The terrestrial headquarters of the Sun Ra Arkestra is a three-story rowhouse in Philadelphia’s Germantown neighborhood, the place the famously intergalactic jazz ensemble has lived, rehearsed, and pushed the boundaries of music for greater than 50 years.

The home has partially collapsed, however Marshall Allen, 96, the band’s founding saxophone participant and present chief, nonetheless lives and works there. The primary Solar Ra Arkestra album in 20 years, “Swirling,” was launched final October to wide acclaim. The home is now present process main structural repairs funded by a Miami-based artwork and jazz philanthropy, the Robert D. Bielecki Foundation.

The pump for the radiator heating system can’t warmth the higher flooring of the home, and the basement had been deteriorating for years. Allen has lived in the home since 1968, with a rotating forged of band members, and took over management of the Arkestra after Solar Ra’s demise in 1993. He stated previously yr, the ground joists gave approach, inflicting the basement ground to break down into the sub-basement.

The Sun Ra House in Germantown
The Solar Ra home in Germantown, identifiable by its painted door, has been dwelling to the Solar Ra Arkestra since 1968. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

“Water had dripped on it, and doubtless termites had eaten the sub-basement,” stated Allen. “In the future it simply — schlkup — fell in.”

When a plumber got here to the home just lately to examine the failing boiler, he couldn’t entry the heating system as a result of the pit the place the basement ground was was stuffed with junk that had amassed there over the a long time.

“So many individuals come via right here. In the event that they depart something, it’s within the basement,” stated Allen.

A Sun Ra poster remains affixed to the wall above the space where the floor collapsed into the sub-basement at the Sun Ra House
A Solar Ra poster stays affixed to the wall above the area the place the ground collapsed into the sub-basement on the Solar Ra home in Germantown. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

In January 2021, Cornelia Muller — who’s engaged on a characteristic movie about Solar Ra — contacted Robert Bielecki and defined the state of Allen’s home. He instantly dedicated $7,000 to repair it.

“The Basis’s ethos is ‘redefining reciprocity.’ The concept audiences, artists, and presenting organizations kind a virtuous circle that requires shared duty for the well being of the commons,” wrote Bielecki in an electronic mail. “It’s unhappy and outrageous that Marshall Allen and a few Arkestra members reside in these circumstances. Solar Ra’s legacy, the Arkestra, and the home are American Treasures and should be handled as such.”


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