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When Harlem was the mecca of African-American culture, Langston Hughes was one of its luminaries. During the 1950s and ’60s, the great poet of the Harlem Renaissance lived in what was once a majestic brownstone house on E. 127th Street, between 5th Avenue and Madison Avenue.

Today, that house is in disrepair and could be lost in a wave of gentrification. But CNN reports that a group of Black artists are working to save it as a landmark.

Renee Watson, a writer who lives in the neighborhood, leads the effort.

“We—the community—must hold on to the space,” Watson told CNN. “I feel a sense of urgency.”

A few years ago, the house was up for sale with a $1 million price tag. It didn’t sell. But now that middle-class Whites are buying up properties in Harlem and luxury condos are popping up, the market value of Hughes’ former home, now empty, is estimated at $3 million.

Watson is spearheading the effort to raise funds through an Indiegogo campaign. So far supporters have raised nearly $28,000. Their goal is to accumulate $150,000, to rent the house and transform it into a cultural center.

“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,” Watson told the news outlet.

Hughes’ typewriter sits on a shelf in the house, according to CNN. In his memory, the group hopes to transform the parlor into an event space, perhaps for poetry readings.



Langston Hughes’ Harlem Home Threatened By Gentrification  was originally published on