Little Hope for Saving Coltrane Church, Last Vestige of SF Jazz District

Archbishop Franzo King, co-founder of the St. John Coltrane Church

Archbishop Franzo King, co-founder of the St. John Coltrane Church (Photo: Cy Musiker/KQED)

The St. John Coltrane Church in San Francisco’s Fillmore District is in danger of eviction and barring an injection of cash, it looks like there’s little the church can do about it.

The storefront church is tiny, but attracts worshipers from around the world because of its Sunday performances of music by saxophone legend John Coltrane, still a towering figure in jazz nearly 50 years after his death.

Archbishop and co-founder Franzo King says the landlord, the West Bay Conference Center, is trying to raise the church’s rent from $1,600 a month to $4,000. But King says the issue is bigger than a rent hike. The church, he says, is one of the last black-owned businesses in a neighborhood known as the “Harlem of the West,” before the city redeveloped the Fillmore in the 1960s.

“The outmigration of the African American community is what we’re fighting against. The salvation of black culture and people in this community,” King said.

Since the closure last year of the jazz club The Addition, the John Coltrane Church is also the only jazz presenter in a neighborhood San Francisco has named the “Fillmore Jazz Preservation District.

A board member for the landlord had no comment on negotiations with the church. An aide to Supervisor London Breed says the supervisor wants to help the church find a new home, but that’s a challenge when so many non-profits are being priced out of the city.

Archbishop King says, “That’s our goal now, to find a home for this church that has proven itself to be something that is very necessary for the culture on a global level.”

Earlier this month, King started an online petition in the hopes of gathering enough signatures to pressure local politicians to help the church stay around.

This isn’t the first time the Coltrane Church has faced eviction: back in 2000, the church was forced out of its storefront space on Divisadero St., which had been its home since 1971.

Little Hope for Saving Coltrane Church, Last Vestige of SF Jazz District 3 August,2016Cy Musiker

  • MB

    Oakland’s calling.

    • Cynthia

      What??? So it can displace someone even lower down on the economic ladder? So in five, ten, fifteen years it can get priced out of Oakland too?

      • oaklandeasy

        What do you suggest? Or are you just here to shoot down the ideas of others? STFU. That’s a valid option. In order to survive, the church needs to look at all the options available. If SF is no longer affordable, then Oakland is certainly a viable option.

  • Jessica Levant

    While I totally want the church to remain, some of the facts here are not quite true. First there is Sheba’s Piano Lounge which still has jazz nightly and second, the Addition was not a jazz club. Yoshi’s was pretty much one, but it’s successor veered far afield. I would like to sign (and circulate) the petition referred to, but cannot find it.

    • dat_MF

      The petition is on Change.org — it’s very easy to find… click on the obvious highlighted words — it will take you to another page which will show you another highlighted word or two — then click on that to arrive at the Change.org petition…. or just search change.org

    • oaklandeasy

      That’s fair. So, there are two places that play Jazz in a neighborhood the city named the Fillmore Jazz Preservation District. Doesn’t sound like “preservation” is their top priority. Sounds more like they want the name, but not what it was named after. Or the people who play the music for that matter.

    • oaklandeasy
  • HH

    save this exquisite historical gem san franciscans! LOVE

  • BarryEisenberg

    Save the John Coltrane Church. It is like no other.

  • Jessica Levant

    Thanks, Oaklandeasy. Found it and signed it.

  • Sally Duke

    “…No road is an easy one, but they all go back to God…..He will remake… He always has and He always will…”

  • Rolf61

    Just an idea, but they might try to get it registered on the National Historic Register. It may slow down the eviction process long enough to attract national attention. (Heard this practical idea, and wanted to pass it along)

Author

Cy Musiker

Cy Musiker co-hosts The Do List and covers the arts for KQED News and The California Report.  He loves live performance, especially great theater, jazz, roots music, anything by Mahler. Cy has an MJ from UC Berkeley's School of Journalism, and got his BA from Hampshire College. His work has been recognized by the Society for Professional Journalists with their Sigma Delta Chi Award for Public Service in Journalism. When he can, Cy likes to swim in Tomales Bay, run with his dog in the East Bay Hills, and hike the Sierra.

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