After years of advocacy, the Upper West Side home of legendary black author and civil rights activist James Baldwin has been added to the National Register of Historic Places. In July, the house was added to the State Register of Historic Places as well.
Located at 137 West 71st Street, the four-story house served as Baldwin’s home from 1965 to 1987. It was originally built as a rowhome in 1890, but was converted into a four-story apartment house in 1961.
The NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, which had been long advocating for the house to be added to both registers, celebrated the news.
“Seeing James Baldwin’s NYC residence listed on the National Register of Historic Places is the realization of our mission, in part, to increase LGBT representation on this important official inventory of sites and to formally recognize the U.S. home most closely associated with Baldwin, a pivotal voice of 20th century America,” Amanda Davis, project manager at the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, said in a statement.
Baldwin was born in New York City on August 2, 1924, and grew up in Harlem. The NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project says that “although [Baldwin] generally eschewed labels and did not self-identify as gay, he was open about the fact that he had relationships with men and spoke openly about various LGBT issues.” He also wrote several novels featuring gay and bisexual characters, including Giovanni’s Room.
Back in June Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the site’s nomination to both State and National registers: “Baldwin transformed and continues to transform discussions about race and sexuality in America and abroad,” a statement from Cuomo’s office read at the time.
Also in June—the day after Cuomo announced the house’s nomination—the Landmarks Preservation Commission designated Baldwin’s home as a NYC landmark, along with five other sites connected to the city’s LGBTQ history.