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Editorial: Muddy Waters’ old house is worth saving

Muddy Waters' former home 43rd Lake Park. |  Sun-Times files

Muddy Waters' former home at 43rd and Lake Park. | Sun-Times files

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Updated: July 15, 2013 7:04PM

Chicago gave the world the hard-charging urban blues, which morphed into rock ’n’ roll.

We would be smart as a city to play that up a little more, for the sake of tourism and plain old civic pride, beginning with saving Muddy Waters’ old house from demolition.

The foreclosed house, at 4339 S. Lake Park Ave., is a designated Chicago landmark but also a mess. Repairs could cost upwards of $90,000, a city-appointed receiver said this week.

But, he added, it’s doable.

Waters lived in the house from 1954 to 1974, his prime years as Chicago’s most celebrated bluesman. Other greats who dropped by include Howlin’ Wolf, James Cotton, Little Walter and Pinetop Perkins.

Otis Spann played piano in the basement in long jam sessions.

Some people say 43rd and Lake Park is a long way from the tourist trade but, as reporter Dave Hoekstra points out, so is Louis Armstrong’s house in Queens, N.Y. — and Satchmo’s place pulls them in.

Waters’ great-grandson Steven Mckinley Monson told Hoekstra he wants to raise the money for renovations through a Kickstarter campaign. Also, tax credits might be forthcoming if the house is added to the National Register of Historic Places, which is a real possibility.

In the meantime, a housing court next week will receive repair estimates. Such proceedings can lead to orders of demolition, but we can’t imagine that happening here.

Too many fans of the blues, tourists and locals alike, would never understand.

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