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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.



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