Lorraine Hansberry residence listed on the National Register of Historic Places
The former residence of black lesbian playwright and activist Lorraine Hansberry has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places, highlighting Hansberry’s incredible contributions to American arts and culture. Her play, A Raisin in the Sun (1959), was the first play by a black woman to appear on Broadway. The Lorraine Hansberry Residence, located at 337 Bleecker Street, Greenwich Village, was first successfully nominated to the New York State Register of Historic Places by the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project in March 2021, in collaboration with the New York State Historic Preservation Office. The historic site was officially listed in the National Register in April 2021.
While residing at 337 Bleecker Street, Hansberry lived parallel lives: one as a famous playwright and the other as a woman who privately explored her homosexuality through her writing, relationships and social circle.
Amanda Davis, Project Manager, NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project: “Honoring the very place where Lorraine Hansberry lived and worked through these state and national registry listings marks another milestone in our mission to highlight contributions from LGBT people to American history. The site is also one of what we hope will be a growing number of historic places across the country that celebrate the achievements of black women and lesbians of color. Hansberry’s active participation 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 to the Lorraine Hansberry Residence and Stonewall National Monument also provides an invaluable opportunity for tours and school groups to broaden their understanding of LGBT history beyond soul. Stonewall was completed in 1969. “
Erik Kulleseid, commissioner of the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation: “For many students across the country, Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun is a first introduction to theater and dramatic writing. too short life of the author. The listing of Hansberry’s residence in the NYS and National Records adds to the scholarship of her life as a gay author in the 1950s and 1960s. Our partnership with the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project continues to produce listings in the records and strengthens New York’s leadership in recognizing the lives and contributions of the LGBTQ + community. “
From the National Register application, completed by the New York LGBT Historic Sites Project:
The property at 337 Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village is of National Significance by Criterion B for its association with pioneering Black lesbian playwright, writer and activist Lorraine Hansberry (1930-1965). Hansberry lived in an apartment on the third floor of the building from 1953 to 1960, a period of importance. During this time, she wrote her groundbreaking play A Raisin in the Sun in the apartment, and in 1957 first read it aloud to her friend Philip Rose, who continued to produce it. In March 1959, Hansberry made history as the first black woman to have a play on Broadway with the premiere of Raisin at the Ethel Barrymore Theater in Manhattan. She became the first African-American playwright, and the youngest playwright of all time, to win the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best American Play.
An instant celebrity, Hansberry was pictured in her book-lined apartment on Bleecker Street for Vogue Magazine a month after the play’s premiere. A grape in the sun, considered a classic, is now part of the established literary canon and is taught in schools across the United States. The coin is also still widely produced.
Hansberry was also a dedicated social justice activist and she remains an important figure at the intersections of race, class, gender and sexuality. She has worked alongside civil rights activists, such as her friends, writer James Baldwin and singer Nina Simone, and has contributed to a variety of publications focusing on racial justice, the communist, women’s equality and LGBT causes during his lifetime. Many of these articles were written in his apartment at 337 Bleecker Street.
Even before the success of A Raisin in the Sun, Hansberry began to privately explore his lesbian identity; she found community in her small lesbian social circle in Greenwich Village and had at least two relationships with women who lived near her Bleecker Street apartment. While she spoke about civil rights and other issues – speaking at an NAACP rally in Washington Square Park in 1959, for example – she remained private of her sexuality, choosing instead to participate in LGBT issues. anonymously through her writings, both before and after her. became famous for Raisin. She was among the first literary contributors to The Ladder (1956-1972), the national monthly magazine of the Daughters of Bilitis (DOB), the country’s first lesbian rights organization, founded in San Francisco in 1955.