Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Langston Hughes gets foreclosed on

Langston Hughes’s former Harlem residence has landmark status. The Cleveland home where he spent part of his teen years has been foreclosed.

If life isn’t unfair, at least it’s consistent.

Hughes lived at the house on East 86th Street from 1917 to 1919, until he graduated from high school. Now, Wells Fargo Bank has purchased it for $16,667.

The house may have slipped into anonymity were it not for Christopher Busta-Peck, a librarian at the Hough Branch of the Cleveland Public Library.

Busta-Peck discovered the house’s history while trying to find something to interest the young readers he worked with at the library. He used a two-tome Hughes biography, written by Arnold Rampersad, to locate five different houses Hughes lived in during his tenure in Cleveland. Three of the houses have been destroyed. The two remaining homes are on East 86th Street.

Busta-Peck said he did not necessarily want to see the Hughes house turned into a museum like the restored Glenville home where Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created Superman. He guessed the house probably did not have anything left from the days of Hughes’s habitation. He just wants to see the house preserved.

“It’s a good house. It’s a basic 1890s Cleveland vernacular Victorian house,” he said.

Busta-Peck said the house had some ugly siding, but it was far from a lost cause.

Wells Fargo has indicated that it wants to sell the house as quickly as possible. I realize there aren’t a lot of people with $20,000 worth of disposable income and a Langston Hughes Museum probably wouldn’t be huge money; but it would be a shame if that piece of history fell to the bulldozers.

-Jason Lea,



Blogger Mr. Newit said...

Not to be one to diminish such a dream but this seems to me a bit silly. Hughes bounced around when here, never putting down roots. It was not until he left that he found his footing and became the artist that we now know.

Clevelanders have a horrible need to latch on to anyone famous passing through in order to claim some of the spotlight. It is desperate and sad. We can do better than creating yet another "a great person slept here although he wouldn't remember it if you could ask him" sort of place.

July 22, 2009 at 8:36 PM 

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