Folk icon Woodrow Wilson “Woody” Guthrie was born July 14, 1912 in Okemah, Oklahoma, and died fifty-five years later of Huntington’s disease in his adopted hometown of New York City.
In between, he spent a lot of time in Greenwich Village.
Woody Guthrie arrived in New York City in 1940, where he was immediately embraced by the left and by many of the city’s musical innovators.
One of the places he spent a lot of time was the Almanac House at 130 West 10th Street, just west of Greenwich Avenue. This was the headquarters for Pete Seeger’s Alamanac singers, a musical collective which occupied the house and held ‘hootnanies’ there as a way to raise funds. Guthrie was one of many musicians who lived and/or performed there in the early 1940’s, along with Huddie “Lead Belly” Ledbetter, Alan Lomax, Burl Ives, and Will Geer.
According to the designation report of the Greenwich Village Historic District, within which this building lies, it was built in 1862 for George Star, a butcher (the designation reports for all historic districts and landmarked properties in GVSHP’s neighborhoods can be found on our resources webpage at http://www.gvshp.org/_gvshp/resources/design_rpt.htm).
In the early 1940’s, Guthrie lived in an apartment at 148 West 14th Street, just east of 7th Avenue. By the end of World War II, part of which Guthrie spent in the Merchant Marine, he and his wife moved to Mermaid Avenue in Coney Island, where he lived until the early 1950’s, when he moved to California.
Guthrie died of Huntington’s Disease, the same progressive neurological disorder which claimed the life of his mother, on October 3, 1967.