“Famed New York comic Godfrey and a group of jazz fans could be collaborating to transform the vacant former home of a legendary singer into a cultural center honoring the history of jazz in The Bronx.
The comedian, whose real name is Godfrey Danchimah, currently owns the South Bronx house at 818 Ritter Pl., where jazz singer Maxine Sullivan lived for more than 40 years in the mid-20th century.
Godfrey purchased the building in 2006 and said it still contained remnants of Sullivan’s successful music career, namely a worn old piano in the middle of the living room.
He made some renovations to the place but ended up returning to Manhattan fairly quickly, he said.
“About six years ago, my girlfriend decided this is too much work. It’s back to Manhattan in an apartment,” he said. “I’m in an apartment right now living in Hell’s Kitchen, so the thing is up for sale.”
A group of Sullivan fans noticed the “For Sale” sign on Saturday when they gathered by the house for a ceremony to co-name Ritter Place “Maxine Sullivan Way.”
They saw this as an opportunity to transform the now empty building into a cultural center honoring the borough’s contributions to jazz music, which tend to get overshadowed by a focus on its contributions to hip-hop and Latin music, according to Mark Naison, an African-American studies professor at Fordham University.
“What an opportunity to publicize the forgotten jazz history of this neighborhood to a new generation of people,” said Naison, who is helping spearhead the effort to turn the house into a museum.“