The National Trust for Historic Preservation has given a $50,000 grant to transform the six-time Grammy-winning blues musician’s brick house — situated on 4339 S. Lake Park Ave. in the North Kenwood neighborhood of the city — into the Muddy Waters MOJO Museum. The grant arrives through the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund.
Led by Waters’ great-granddaughter, Chandra Cooper, the MOJO renovation project will include a neighborhood museum attached to a community center. In addition to exhibits with a focus on Waters and the blues, the space will include a small venue, a recording studio, and a community garden.
“We want to be able to support older artists as well and as a small venue where people can go in the basement and do a little recording,” Cooper told the Hyde Park Herald, “because while it wasn’t a recording studio downstairs — it was a rehearsal studio — we’d like to incorporate that into the overall experience.”
Waters purchased the house in 1954 and used it for the next two decades as a rehearsal space; he died in 1983. In 2013, the Department of Buildings deemed the Chicago property unsafe, and the building was threatened with demolition.
“It was so significant to get this grant money from the trust because it’s really saving this house from any more deterioration,” Cooper said.
The Muddy Waters MOJO Museum project is expected to be complete within two years.