It's the most unlikely spot for an iconic jazz house, but Meyers Ace Hardware in Bronzeville was the joint where all of the greats performed.
A history class from DePaul passed through 35th and Calumet, where they learned all is not what it seems at the Meyers Ace Hardware store.
It's an old school place, a relic in its own right, but it's what happened before it became a hardware store that brings visitors here from literally around the world.
All the legends, including the incomparable Louie Armstrong, played there starting in the early 1920s, when it was called the Sunset Café. Later it was called the Grand Terrace Cafe.
David Meyers' family bought the building from Louie Armstrong's agent, a guy named Joe Glazer, 50 years ago, yet the curious and the jazz aficionados still come.
“We had a tour group come, and musicians were holding the pillars hugging it. So I said, ‘what's he doing?’ He said, ‘he's feeling the jazz. Feelin' the jazz,’” Meyers said.
An accomplished German band called the Jazz-O-Maniacs have made a couple pilgrimages there as well.
Among the hints of the building's previous life is a mural on a wooden wall that was once the backdrop for the stage. It is now a back wall of an office.
In 1928, the incomparable Earl "Fatha" Hines began a 12 year residency at what became the Grand Terrace Café, an operation that took on a partner by the name of Al Capone, who made Hines an offer he couldn't refuse.
"He said, ‘you need protection from me, you need protection from the police, your children need protection coming home from school and I'll have a new partner.’" Meyer said. Hines response? "You've got a deal!"
The Sunset Café was a rarity, a “black-and-tan club,” meaning an integrated club where all races could mingle. It became a Mecca for the best of the best when Chicago was the Jazz capital of the world.
205 N. Michigan Avenue
Didn't find what you were looking for?