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