There are at least two ‘Lucilles’ in America’s musical lexicon. One is the name of BB King’s guitar. Another is Lucille Wilson, the fourth wife of Louis Armstrong, his last and longest marital relationship.
Satchmo and Lucille lived together in the same house in Corona, Queens from 1943 until his death in 1971, and she stayed another 12 years. They are buried in Flushing Cemetery not far away.
Their house is now a museum displaying the earthly remains of their life together, preserved as if they were still its inhabitants largely because of Lucille. Lucille’s housekeeper, Bessie Williams, hired in 1972, remained on the payroll after Lucille’s death and every couple of weeks, she’d clean the house as she always had; she retired not long before the house opened as a museum.
The custom-made kitchen stove and cabinets were painted to match Lucille’s Cadillac.
The mirrored bathroom has a marble bathtub and gold-plated fixtures on a marble sink that was formerly a birdbath for French birds. I guess a hat tip is due to Lucille’s longtime decorator, Morris Grossberg.
Other places to visit that are original, ‘as built’ include Marjorie Elliot’s Jazz Parlour apartment, the American Legion Post 398, Bill’s Place, where Billie Holiday began her career and Flute, Texas Guinan’s speakeasy on west 54th Street.