Visiting the Scott Joplin House State Historic Site
You’ve undoubtedly heard the work of musician and composer Scott Joplin, whose iconic compositions “The Entertainer” and the familiar “Maple Leaf Rag” are both celebrated pieces that solidified his place in the Great American Songbook. Dubbed “The King of Ragtime,” Joplin was one of millions of African-Americans in the U.S. who moved north during the late-1800s and early 1900s, and the musician settled in St. Louis from 1901 to 1903.
While in St. Louis, Joplin rented a home with his wife at 2658 Delmar Blvd. St. Louis was a focal point of the ragtime music movement and where Joplin hoped to pursue his dream of becoming a successful composer and musician. The home fell into disrepair in later years, and through the efforts of Black St. Louis activists in the 1970s who campaigned to save the building from demolition, it was designated as a U.S. National Historic Landmark in 1976.
Today, Joplin’s former home has been transformed into a museum open for public tours. Although the items are not original to Joplin, the home has been restored and redecorated as it would have been during his time. As a player piano belts out his melodies, you can peer into one of the small side rooms where it’s supposed he wrote “The Entertainer.”
This story originally appeared in GUIDED: Saint Louis Exploring Midtown. Read the full issue.
Photography by Carmen Troesser.