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Langston Hughes’s Harlem home receives major preservation grant

The poet’s house is among 22 national sites that received the award

Photo by Raymond Boyd/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Langston Hughes’s Harlem brownstone is one of 22 sites across the country that received a National Trust for Historic Preservation grant, the New York Daily News first reported.

Part of the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund—aimed at uplifting and restoring historic places that uncover stories of African Americans—the sites will receive more than $1.6 million in grants, according to a National Trust statement.

A poet, activist, and one of the most important figures of the Harlem Renaissance, Hughes lived in the East Harlem home at 20 East 127th Street for the last 20 years of his life. The Italianate-style brownstone was built in 1869 and designed by architect Alexander Wilson, according to the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s (LPC) report.

The brownstone is now home to the I, Too, Arts Collective nonprofit, which preserves Hughes’s legacy and supports emerging artists from underrepresented communities. And that was thanks to Renee Watson, a Harlem writer and the organization’s founder, who launched a crowdfunding campaign back in 2016 to rent the house—which was vacant for years—and turn it into the space that it is today.

“The recipients of this funding shine a light on once lived stories and Black culture, some familiar and some yet untold, that weave together the complex story of American history in the United States,” Brent Leggs, executive director of the Action Fund, said during the announcement at the 25th Essence Festival in New Orleans.

Harriet Tubman’s home in Auburn, New York, is also among the grant recipients. Other awardees include the African Meeting House and Abiel Smith School in Boston; the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston; and God’s Little Acre in Newport, RI.