Known Name(s)



265 Dixwell Ave. New Haven, CT

Establishment Type(s)

Restaurant, Night Club

Physical Status


Detailed History

During the Great Migration, Black laborers from the South began relocating to Northern cities such as New Haven in search of better job opportunities. Between the 1910s to 1940s and beyond, Black migrants found jobs in New Haven's industries, particularly at the Winchester Rifle factory. Many settled in the Dixwell neighborhood, already a center of African American businesses, culture, institutions, and residences.

One of the neighborhood's most famous establishments was the Monterey Jazz Club, founded by vaudeville entertainer Rufus Greenlee in 1934. Listed in The Green Book from 1947 to 1967, the Monterey was a prime dining and entertainment destination for Black travelers visiting New Haven or simply passing through. The club hosted great entertainers from across the country, including Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Ella Fitzgerald, and Billie Holiday. As stated by Rufus Greenlee's daughter, Delores Greenlee, in an interview with WSHU Public Radio, "A lot of people came through, Nat King Cole. We had a live album recording there with [jazz organist] Johnny Hammond Smith, and he recorded 'Black Coffee.' One of the songs is named after me, thank you."

Rufus Greenlee died in 1963. In 1988, the Monterey was refurbished and reopened as a cafe by his daughters, Delores Greenlee and Virginia Wells. However, the cafe had closed by 1991 and its fate remained uncertain until January 2023, when the New Haven Board of Alders' Community Development Committee unanimously approved the plan to purchase the building. According to Livable City Initiative Executive Director Arlevia Samuel, officials want to engage with the Dixwell community to determine what to do with the building. Current plans focus on renovating the building to include a commercial ground floor with an affordable residential unit upstairs.

Listed in the Winchester Repeating Arms National Register Historic District

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