St. Albans Professional Review and Guide
"“They all lived here.” So says an outdoor mural that you see along this walk. Who were “they”? Black celebrities, primarily jazz entertainers. Beginning in the 1940s, St. Albans was home to such superstars of jazz as John Coltrane, Ella Fitzgerald, and Count Basie, along with other successful but less famous musicians. This wasn’t a fleeting phenomenon, either: Illinois Jacquet, master of the “screeching” tenor sax, and bassist Milt “The Judge” Hinton were St. Albans residents of five decades when they passed away in 2004 and 2000, respectively. Jazz musicians even played a part in integrating the neighborhood, specifically its upscale community Addisleigh Park: When racial covenants barring Addisleigh Park home sales to nonwhites were challenged (and upheld) in state court in the 1940s, several black families— including Count Basie’s—were already living there. Such covenants would be abolished with the US Supreme Court’s 1948 Shelley v. Kraemer decision, and Addisleigh Park has now been landmarked by the city for its African American heritage as well as its architectural beauty."