A collective of artists is making a play to save Langston Hughes’s historic East Harlem brownstone, reports CNNMoney. The plan: to turn the long-empty house into a cultural center honoring the poet, a legend of the Harlem Renaissance.
For years, the fate of the ivy-covered Langston Hughes House has been uncertain: after a series of lawsuits over use and maintenance of the East 127th street house, the current owners put the place on the market in 2009 for $1.2 million, but it didn’t sell. They lowered the price in 2010. It stayed empty. Now, brokers estimate the 1896 home—a New York City Landmark—is worth more than $3 million.
That’s where Harlem-based writer Renee Watson comes in. She’s launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise $150,000—enough to rent the house and turn it into a space "for emerging and established artists in Harlem to create, connect, and showcase work," according to the campaign page.
"The more Harlem changes, the more I’m motivated to do something," she told CNNMoney. "We—the community—must hold on to the space." So far, she’s rallied a bunch of local authors around the cause (donation incentives include books, manuscript consultations, and author visits). As of right now, Watson has raised about a third of her goal.
The concern now is that they won’t be able to raise the money in time, though "the current owner has agreed to hold off on selling to see how the project unfolds," says CNNMoney.
The photos below, from 2011, show the condition the house was in at the time—with any luck, this campaign will change that.