During the last decade of her life, author, poet, and civil rights activist Maya Angelou split her time between Winston-Salem, NC (she taught American studies at Wake Forest University) and New York. While in the Northeast, she resided in an historic Harlem brownstone, located at 58 West 120th Street in the Mount Morris Park Historic District, according to the Times, which is now on the market for $5.1 million.
The four-story home was built in the early 1900s, but when Dr. Angelou purchased it sight unseen in 2002, “it was a dilapidated shell…the victim of vandals, with missing stairs and rotting floor beams.” She hired architect Marc Anderson of East Harlem-based firm M. Anderson Design to oversee a gut renovation that preserved the brownstone’s historic details while adding contemporary amenities.
The resulting 6,500-square-foot, five-bedroom home is quite splendid, with the original oak-front door, wainscoting, carved banister, and decorative fireplaces. Modern additions include an elevator, two skylights, and a basement entertainment area. There’s a private garden, and Angelou’s third-floor master suite boasts a fireplace and, not surprisingly, a large library.
When Angelou’s health started deteriorating, the home was rented out between 2013 and 2015 for around 12,000/month. Prior to this, however, the prolific writer entertained the likes of Oprah Winfrey and Cicely Tyson. The Times beautifully recounts this era of the home:
…the brownstone once shimmered with bursts of color from the artwork Ms. Angelou had collected, and from her choice of décor. Oversize armchairs and couches in the living room on the parlor level were upholstered in bold shades of lime green, tangerine, grape and yellow — “I wanted the room to look like a bowl of summer fruit,” she said in a 2007 interview — and the dining room showcased a soffit ceiling with a painted blue sky and clouds, a feature that remains. The parlor level also once displayed a birdcage lamp, resting on a piano, a nod to her autobiographical work “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” published in 1969.
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Photos via Link NY Realty
Neighborhoods : Harlem