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Langston Hughes’ Former Harlem Brownstone for Sale

August 1st, 2009 by DavidFreeland

Yesterday my friend, real estate agent and music industry veteran Barbara Harris, called with a rare opportunity: the chance to tour Langston Hughes’ former residence at 20 East 127th Street, near Fifth Avenue in Harlem.  Hughes, whose writings resounded with the wit, truth, and dignity of the human experience, lived at this majestic 1869 house from the late 1940s all the way to his death in 1967.  A designated New York City landmark (both interior and exterior), the home has always remained in private hands – which means that it’s not often seen by the general public.

Langston Hughes House at 20 East 127th Street

Langston Hughes House at 20 East 127th Street

The house, in need of some restoration but otherwise intact, did not disappoint.  One of the most enchanting design features is an original floor-to-ceiling mirror, placed between the front windows on the 127th Street side.  My thanks go to photographer Jim Cummins, whose images are seen above and below.

Front Parlor

Front Parlor

Because of the house’s landmark status, exquisite features such as the ceiling decorations will have to be preserved by future owners.

Parlor Ceiling

Parlor Ceiling

There are also six original fireplaces, as well as sliding doors between the front and back parlors.  Frosted glass enlivens the vestibule doorway, while a colorful skylight emits multi-hued beams from the top of the stairwell.  A peaceful, tree-shaded garden in back must have offered Mr. Hughes a contemplative oasis in the middle of the Harlem he loved so much.

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16 responses so far ↓

  • For some reason, I had a dream about this house. I’m not sure what this is about. But I was born on this block, and I attended the same college Langston attended, which is Lincoln University. I am full of resources, and I willing to help restore what have been lost…Dreams….the youth needs this place!

  • That’s a good article about Langston Hughes' Former Harlem Brownstone for Sale. Thanks for the info.

  • The home looks magnificent. It will be a shame if such a historic place won’t be restored.

  • Mr. Freeland, thank you for sharing your visit to Hughes’ home. One of my closest friends lives a few short minutes from this very house, but I have never visited–not even to stand in front of the house, and imagine Langston walking up and down the stairs, and into his house over the course of the 20 years in which he lived there.
    I am a scholar and teacher of African-American literature, and frequently use Langston in my classes. He means so much to me as an artist and historian of African-American culture. Do you know if the house is open for tours now? Thank you.

  • Hi Lanee,

    Are you looking for more than what I discussed in the post? Overall the house impressed me as being peaceful, dignified, and full of warmth – just like Langston Hughes himself. Good luck with your project. Please let me know if you have any specific questions.


  • Sounds like a great performance, Anthony. Hope you get lots of interest!

  • First off hello. My name is Lanee and I am studying Langston Hughes for my graduation project. And I would love to hear about your experience at Hughes’ house.

    Please email me at with the details. Thank you.

  • Is any one interest in presenting langston Hughes’ Jesse B. Simple Alive IN Harlem performed by actor Anthony Thompson. Performance held Oct. 10th at 449 LQC Scat performance cafe 132 in Harlem next performance scheduled Nov. 7th @ 8pm.Email me at for more info regarding performance and upcoming shows.

  • It would be great if Hughes’ Jesse B. Simple could tell his tales in Langston house.

  • Great site. Keep doing.,

  • Yes, let’s hope the buyer will show respect for its history and architecture, and restore it in a sensitive way.

  • The home looks magnificent. It will be a shame if such a historic place won’t be restored.

  • No doubt now being offered at a price that Langston Hughes could never have afforded when he was alive.

  • I read a few topics. I respect your work and added blog to favorites.