TolHouse resurrects Toledo’s jazz heritage

Will Lucas looks to create an innovative and sustainable jazz lounge to pay homage to the city’s musical roots with Lucille’s

Jim Gottron, pianist and piano tuner for jazz greats, came to Lucille’s for the delivery of the Yamaha C6, formerly located at Murphy’s Place. Photo courtesy: Lucille's.

Legendary Toledo jazz pianist Art Tatum one said. “There is no such thing as a wrong note.” For decades in Toledo, this held true across the city’s iconic jazz lounges such as Rusty’s and Murphy’s Place. However, for over the last 10 years, the city known for its jazz music lacked a formal home. With the opening of joints like Lucille’s, jazz has finally found its footing once again in Toledo. 

Photo courtesy: Lucille’s.

Bringing jazz back to Toledo
Lucille’s is housed within TolHouse, which co-founder Will Lucas described as a private social club for the city-dwelling creative and entrepreneurial class. While TolHouse is a members-only social club, Lucille’s will be open to the public and features live music four nights per week. According to Lucas, bringing jazz back to Toledo has been a goal since envisioning TolHouse. 

“I started going to Rusty’s when I was 19-20 years old,” Lucas said. “I never really had an appreciation for jazz until I started hanging out at Rusty’s. I developed my appreciation from listening to people like Leon and Damen Cook. With the rich jazz history this city has, it’s been a shame we haven’t had a dedicated spot for more than 10 years. 

“When we were creating TolHouse, we knew jazz needed to be there as well. There was a footprint for it. TolHouse had the perfect spot for it, and it wouldn’t have felt complete without jazz being there.”

Jim Gottron playing Murphy’s iconic Yahama C6 piano at Lucille’s. Photo courtesy: Lucille’s.

Maintaining the Toledo jazz standard
Murphy’s Place was one of the last standing jazz clubs in the city when it closed in 2011. In homage, Lucille’s has become the new home to the Yamaha C6 piano which previously lived at Murphy’s up until its closing. According to Lucas, he hopes Lucille’s will mirror the level of musical quality the city’s former jazz clubs always maintained. 

“We want and need to match the musical standards and quality that Toledo’s previous jazz clubs set,” Lucas said. “Additionally, we want to be innovative on the business side of things so we can be impactful and have a long run. We want to move toward becoming completely paperless. We want to know who is coming to the shows before showtime and have a sense of what the audience will be.”

Building on the TolHouse philosophy
As with Lucas’ other ventures, he plans to push the envelope of what’s expected. For Lucas, Lucille’s represents another, but important, piece of what is being created with TolHouse. While Lucille’s will be open to the public, it is another amenity attached to TolHouse. According to Lucas, this continues to build on the experience for TolHouse members.

“With TolHouse, we wanted to create a place where you can spend your entire day and have different experiences all day long,” Lucas said. “We wanted to build a place for Toledo’s creative and entrepreneurial class. So, if you come with a group of friends, some may go to the pub in the back, some may go to the jazz club, others may go to the bar in the front, but you’re all in the same place and you can meet in the middle, perhaps in the coffeehouse. Under one roof, there are a plethora of options for every taste.”

To learn more about Lucille’s and TolHouse, visit lucillesjazzlounge.com.