Local writer raising $150,000 to save Langston Hughes’ $3M Harlem townhouse

Posted On Mon, August 22, 2016 By

Posted On Mon, August 22, 2016 By In Celebrities, Harlem

Prolific writer and leader of the Harlem Renaissance Langston Hughes lived at 20 East 127th Street, an 1896 brownstone, in the 1950s and ’60s, until he passed away in 1967. As Curbed notes, in more recent years, the ivy-covered, landmarked home has been plagued by lawsuits over its use and maintenance. The current owner listed it for $1.2 million in 2009, but it didn’t sell even after the price was lowered in 2010. Today, it’s estimated to be worth more than $3 million, though it’s sitting vacant with its paint chipping.

But local writer Renee Watson has big plans for the house that don’t involve a multi-million-dollar sale that could potentially gut the interior, where Hughes’ typewriter still sits on a shelf. CNN Money reports that she’s launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise $150,000 to rent the home, renovate it, and turn it into a cultural center for Harlem-based artists.

Langston Hughes House-3

Langston Hughes House-7

Watson’s plan includes turning the main parlor into an events space and the upstairs rooms as studio space and classrooms.

Langston Hughes House-2

Langston Hughes House-1

The current owner has held the deed to the house since 1999. Though she declined to speak to the press, Watson said, “If someone made [the owner] an offer, she would definitely sell it, but like me, she doesn’t want it to become condos or a coffee shop.” The owner has agreed to hold off on selling until she sees how the campaign pans outs. So far, 796 people have pledged $53,188 of the $150,000 goal. View the campaign here.

[Via CNN Money and Curbed]

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All images via a 2011 Sotheby’s listing

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Neighborhoods : Harlem

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