Playwright Lorraine Hansberry’s Former New York City Residence Receives Historic Distinction
May 23, 2021
By: Brandee Sanders
The NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project teamed up with the New York State Historic Preservation Office for the effort.
Renowned playwright and activist Lorraine Hansberry’s contributions to the arts will forever be embedded in the fabric of history and an effort to preserve a significant element of her journey has moved forward. According to Broadway World, the visionary’s former New York City residence has been added to the National Register of Historic Places.
The home—where Hansberry dwelled between the years of 1953 and 1960—is located at 337 Bleecker Street; in the heart of the Greenwich Village neighborhood. The residence served as the backdrop for Hansberry’s evolution as a pivotal figure. Her time there was one of both professional and personal progression as she made triumphs in her career and explored and embraced her homosexuality. In the space, she penned A Raisin in the Sun which made it to the Ethel Barrymore Theater stage, making her the first African American woman playwright to have her work performed on Broadway. She used the proceeds she earned from the play to acquire the residential building in 1960.
Three years prior to her Broadway debut she and her husband separated. She later formed a long-time relationship with Dorothy Secules, one of the building’s residents. It was in her Bleecker Street apartment where she penned poignant pieces that explored racial justice, LGBT rights and women’s equality.
The NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project teamed up with the New York State Historic Preservation Office for the effort. “Honoring the very place where Lorraine Hansberry lived and worked through these State and National Register listings marks another important step in our mission to highlight the contributions of LGBT people to American history,” Amanda Davis, who serves as Project Manager for NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, said in a statement. “The site is also one of what we hope is a growing number of historic places nationwide that celebrates the achievements of Black women and lesbians of color. Hansberry’s active involvement in the civil rights movement and her influential writings on gender expectations and being a lesbian in 1950s America make her a thought-provoking figure for our time. The proximity of the Lorraine Hansberry Residence to Stonewall National Monument also provides an invaluable opportunity for tours and school groups to expand on their understanding of LGBT history beyond the 1969 Stonewall uprising.”