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The mission of The High Point Coltrane Project is to preserve and re-purpose the childhood home of John Coltrane by leveraging its unique historical and cultural significance, sharing its untold story, and serving as a catalyst for further enhancement of the surrounding communities.

Blair-Coltrane House:

Preservation of a home, celebration of a community.



The History

Once nearly forgotten, the childhood home of jazz legend John Coltrane is slated for preservation and extended new use as a historic site.


In 1928, Reverend Blair (Coltrane's Maternal Grandfather) purchased a vacant lot at 118 Underhill Street in an upscale new subdivision named Griffin Park. From the start, Griffin Park was to be an upscale community for African American citizens of means, including distinguished lawyers and doctors. Young John Coltrane moved with his extended family into this house in 1937 and remained a part of the household until 1943. However, the intriguing history of the house does not begin with John Coltrane.


Rev. William W. Blair

The patron of this extended family was John’s grandfather, Reverend W. W. Blair (1860-1938). Born into slavery in Chowan County, North Carolina, he was educated and capable, and rose within the ranks of the progressive Republican party. The party was a safe harbor for African Americans against the conservative and racially restrictive politics of Democrats. Blair was appointed head of the Chowan County Republican Party and was elected as a County Commissioner. 

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Blair held an adversarial role to the powerful white-led Democrats in Chowan County, NC and his testimony, providing an alibi for a man charged with rape, led to accusations of perjury by white supremacist Democrats. He was tried, convicted, and jailed in 1903, thereby weakening the organization of local Republicans. Sympathetic Chowan County citizens petitioned for his release from jail and he was pardoned by Governor Charles Aycock in 1904.

Blair left North Carolina and moved his family to Tampa, Florida in 1908, where he served in the AME Zion Church there. Blair worked within the AME church across Florida, and even served briefly in East St. Louis in Illinois in 1915, before returning to North Carolina in 1917. He served the large St. Stephen AME Zion Church in High Point beginning in 1920.

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The Underhill Street house, now known as the Blair-Coltrane House, is a two-story, frame structure built in the style of Dutch Colonial architecture. The side-hall entry with stair opens to a large parlor with a corner fireplace. A dining room and kitchen round out the first-floor plan, and three bedrooms and a bath comprise the second floor. The house retains a high degree of original materials that lend to the authenticity of the site, including window sash, flooring, built-ins, a fireplace and mantel, stairs, and plaster walls.

The house has been owned by the City of High Point since 2006, when it was used for a dozen years as rental housing. In reaction to growing interest to celebrate the history of Coltrane in High Point, the city appointed a Coltrane Project task force in March 2019 to include community leaders, historians, preservationists, and musicians. The task force is gathering information related to three areas critical to the care of the property, including a History Committee, a Site Function Committee, and a Preservation Committee.

John Coltrane spent his teenage years in his grandfather’s house on Underhill Street, where he attended the nearby William Penn High School, roller skated down the hill on Underhill Street and sang in the choir of his grandfather’s church. These were formative years for the young man, who have faced frustrating and aggravating restrictions in the American South under Jim Crow Laws. Predictably, John left High Point in 1943, never to return.

The Timeline





Early Life: John William Coltrane was born on September 23, 1926, in Hamlet, NC -- months later his family moved to High Point, NC. He began playing the saxophone at a young age and showed remarkable musical talent.

A Love Supreme: One of his most celebrated albums is "A Love Supreme," released in 1965. It is a spiritually inspired work and is often considered a masterpiece of jazz music.

The City of High Point creates The Coltrane Project, co-chaired by Cyril Jefferson and Phyllis Bridges, to lead efforts to restore and activate Coltrane's childhood home: 118 Underhill Street, High Point, NC 27260. A historical marker is placed and unveiled at the home.

City completes local historical landmark designation and architectural study of the home. Representative Cecil Brockman secures $250K grant from NC General Assembly to jumpstart restoration.


Phase 1 of construction is nearly completed. Partners from the local community as well as nationally begin working with the project to provide sponsorship and support for programming and to begin work on Phase 2 of the project.

Get Involved



We are continuing to raise funds for Phase 2 construction of the home's restoration efforts. Please donate to our Fiscal Partner, "High Point Preservation Society," using Zelle in your banking app.



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