This home was built by Professor Fletcher Hamilton Henderson, Cuthbert’s preeminent black educator for well over half a century. Professor Henderson served as principal of Howard Normal School (later Randolph County Training School) from 1880-1942. The institution was owned by the American Missionary Association, a leading advocate for African-American education in the years following the Civil War. Henderson married Ozie Lena Chapman of Cuthbert in 1883. Mrs. Henderson also became an educator.
It’s likewise important as the birthplace of Fletcher Henderson, Jr., and Horace Henderson, who were influential in American music in the first half of the 20th century. Upon completing college at Atlanta University in 1920, Fletcher (aka Smack) moved to New York and soon began working for Pace & Handy, a prominent publisher of African-American music. He was also an active member of the Harlem Symphony and later fronted a touring band that featured singer Ethel Waters. The band has the distinction of having the first known broadcast of jazz on radio, at New Orleans in 1922. At the height of the Harlem Renaissance, Henderson was the go-to accompanist of the great blues singers of the era and led the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra at Roseland Ballroom for many years. He worked with numerous instrumentalists, including Coleman Hawkins, Charlie Green, Don Redman, Louis Armstrong, Charlie Dixon, Fats Waller, and June Cole, among others. He sold his arrangements to Benny Goodman in the 1930s and worked with Goodman’s orchestra in the late 1930s and 1940s. The up-tempo jazz that Henderson had been playing in the 1920s came to be known as “swing”. Benny Goodman noted…Fletcher had one of the first great jazz swing bands in America and influenced any number of musicians in America.
Flectcher Henderson died in 1952. His brother Horace, who led his own smaller band, went on to do arrangements for the Glenn Miller Orchestra and toured with Lena Horne at the height of her popularity. He continued to work with small bands until the 1970s.
National Register of Historic Places