The home of celebrated civil rights activist, novelist, and social commentator, James Baldwin, has been added to the National Register of Historic Places.
As we previously reported, six sites relevant to the LGBTQ community, including Baldwin’s former home, were made designated landmarks last June 18, 2019. Other newly designated landmarks include The Gay Activists Alliance Firehouse, The Caffe Cino, The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Community Center, The Women’s Liberation Center, and The Audre Lorde Residence.
137 West 71st Street became Baldwin’s residence from 1965 until his death in 1987. According to the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission, other notable residents include Toni Morrison, Amiri Baraka, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, and Max Roach.
Baldwin previously lived in Greenwich village at 81 Horatio Street from 1958 to 1963. In 2015, the Greenwich Village Society of Historic Preservation honored Baldwin’s former village residency with a plaque. Baldwin died in France in 1987, but his funeral was held at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.
Today Baldwin’s works continue to transform and discuss sexuality and race in America and abroad, which is why this official national landmark is a big deal. According to the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Projects:
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. We are delighted that our years of research into Baldwin’s connections to New York City and this home, specifically, have resulted in the site’s recognition at both the local, state, and national levels.
Although Baldwin traveled frequently, his Upper West Side apartment was where he worked on his plays, screenplays, novels, as well as correspondence with other literary and cultural figures. While living in the neighborhood, he wrote his sixth novel, “Just Above My Head.”