The Crusader Newspaper Group

Quincy Jones’ childhood home in Bronzeville worth nearly half a million 

By Erick Johnson

Less than a mile west of King Drive and 36th Street sits a handsome stretch of red brick row houses on Prairie Avenue. Many decades ago, one of them was the childhood home of Quincy Jones, Jr. A prolific composer, arranger and recording artist, Jones rose from Bronzeville to the world stage as he turned Michael Jackson into a global superstar with the biggest selling album of all time.

However, back then, Jones’ childhood home was no thriller. But today, it’s worth nearly half a million dollars.

Gentrification, not Jones’ big name, is behind the soaring value as more whites and Asians move into Chicago’s most historic Black neighborhood. On Jones’ street, many historic greystones are gone. The gangs and slums have disappeared. Sleek, Modern apartment buildings have sprung up on once vacant lots. At the center of the new developments and tree-lined sidewalks is an enduring relic that remains a symbol of Bronzeville’s rich past.

Before Chicago gained its reputation as America’s “Black Mecca,” Jones and his siblings would roam Bronzeville’s bustling streets and neighborhoods. With a house, the Jones family was among the few Black households in Chicago to live comfortably during a period where most Blacks did not have a place of their own.

In his illustrious career, Jones recorded 2,900 songs, 300 albums and contributed to 51 film and TV scores. He has been nominated 79 times for a Grammy, winning 28. He produced Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” the biggest selling album of all time. He also produced the King of Pop’s groundbreaking “Thriller” music video, which led MTV to show more videos from other Black artists.

Jones is one of few artists to earn an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony award for his work.

3A3CFC87 CC5F 4774 9E83 AB424D1A0375
Quincy Jones, Jr. and Michael Jackson

He has seven children from three marriages. One of them, Rashida Jones, chronicled his life in the Netflix documentary, “Quincy.”

Today, Jones lives in a 25,000 square-foot house in Los Angeles’ tony Bel Air neighborhood. It has 180 degree views of the city.

Before Jones gained global fame and fortune, he like so many Black achievers, called Chicago his home. He was a Black kid who had big dreams and big problems in a gang-infested neighborhood. Despite the odds, Jones pursued his ambitions, broke racial barriers during segregation and gained millions of white music lovers including Frank Sinatra.

Today, Quincy Jones remains an enduring icon and proud product of Bronzeville’s rich history.

His childhood home remains a privately-owned structure that is not a Chicago landmark. There’s no marker that educates today’s generation of its famous former occupant. But the house is worth a lot more than it was when Quincy lived there.

According to property records, the home sold for $400,000 in 2016. Today, real estate agents say the 2,040 square-foot house is worth between $423,000 to as much as $490,000. The house has four bedrooms and two bathrooms.

Quincy lived here after he was born in Chicago on March 14, 1933. His parents moved from Louisville during the Great Migration. His paternal grandmother was a former slave.

In Chicago, life was very difficult for Jones as he grew up in the 3600 block of South Prarie, where he played among the slums and gangs in  Bronzeville. His parents worked at the historic Rosenwald Apartments on 46th and South Michigan. His father, Quincy D. Jones, Sr. was a carpenter there; his mother Sarah Jones, a spirited and attractive woman, managed the complex and reportedly ran a tight ship.

At the house where they lived, Quincy Jones Jr’s life would forever be changed by several events.

In one of the rooms, Quincy as a little boy, watched authorities enter the house and take his mother away before committing her to an institution. Diagnosed as a schizophrenic, she was in and out of hospitals so much she was unable to have a close relationship with Quincy or her family. At one time she did look for Quincy and his brothers after their father took them and moved to Seattle in 1943 to protect them from her. Memories of his mother’s mental problem would haunt Quincy throughout his life.

Quincy openly speaks of his mother in the documentary “Quincy,” on Netflix. The documentary presents footage of him as an adult revisiting his childhood home that was occupied by a new owner. He visits all four rooms. When he enters his parents’ room, Quincy looks at a bed and gets emotional.

“That’s where they threw my mother down on the bed and put her in a straight jacket” he says in the documentary. “I’m carrying around the past but you can’t sit and wallow in that sh- -. I have to think about her and things she had gone through and how much she loved us.”

Quincy’s mother died after suffering a stroke on January 22, 1994.

There were other problems in Bronzeville, which was infested with gangs and violence when Quincy grew up there. He often tells the story of how gang members once took a switchblade and nailed his hand to a wooden fence. He said they stabbed him in the left temple with an ice pick leaving a permanent scar that is visible today.

In an article in GQ magazine in 2018, Jones said, “The ’30s in Chicago, man. Whew. No joke. If you think today’s bad… As a young kid, after my mother was taken away, my brother and I, we saw dead bodies every day. Guys hanging off of telephone poles with ice picks in their necks, man… F—— South Side of Chicago, they don’t play, man. Harlem and Compton don’t mean shit after Chicago in the ’30s—they look like Boys Town to me. Chicago is tough. There’s something in the water, man.”

In the Netflix documentary, Jones is shown signing autographs for fans who gathered as he toured his childhood home years after he hit it big. For Quincy Jones, it was a refreshing reminder of how far he had gone in achieving his dream as a musician. In one scene in the documentary, he stares outside a window in one of the rooms of his childhood home and offers advice.

“You’ve got to let go of the past; bring the good parts forward,” he said. “Forget about the negative stuff and go on.”

Recent News

Scroll to Top