Sun Ra House listed as historic Philadelphia landmark

Sun Ra House, the Philadelphia building that has been home to the late Sun Ra’s evolving Arkestra collective since the 1960s, has been listed as a historic Philadelphia landmark.

Recognised by the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places, the building at 5626 Morton Street – also known as the Arkestral Institute of Sun Ra – still houses a number of Arkestra members, including current bandleader Marshall Allen.

Allen, who first moved into the Sun Ra House in 1968 and took over the legendary jazz collective following Sun Ra’s death in 1993, revealed last year in an interview with Music Mxdwn that the building had partially collapsed.

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“Water had dripped on [the floor], and probably termites had eaten the sub-basement,” Allen stated. “One day it just – schlkup – fell in.”

On Friday (May 13), the Philadelphia Historical Commission unanimously voted to grant protected status for the building, a representative for the register told Pitchfork.

Moving forward, the Historical Commission will overlook any adjustments to the building and make sure they meet historic preservation standards, as well as advising on its restoration and maintenance.

Sun Ra
Sun Ra Arkestr’s Marshall Allen. CREDIT: Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

The designation came about with help from the Robert Bielecki Foundation, a philanthropist organisation that provides grants, awards and donations to emerging, under-recognised artists, musicians, writers and organisations.

You can check out the Historical Commission’s proposal for the nomination.

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The home of Dr. John E. Fryer, psychologist and gay activist, was also recently listed on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places.

Best known for a pivotal speech against psychiatry’s classification of homosexuality as a mental disorder in 1972, he delivered this speech in disguise at a convention for the American Psychiatric Association (APA).

The Sun Ra discography is one of the largest discographies in music history, spanning over 100 full-length albums.

Sun Ra Arkestra’s last release was 2020’s ‘Swirling’ – its first album in decades – which was nominated for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album award at the 2022 Grammys.

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