The brownstone, located at East 127th Street in Manhattan, has been empty for years, and a $1.2 million asking price in 2009 did not result in a sale for the privately owned home. Watson, who has launched a campaign online, hopes to be able to rent the space, which she would use as a place for writers, painters and dancers to gather. So far her fundraising effort has taken in nearly $60,000 of a $150,000 goal.
Watson told DNAinfo she was moved to begin this campaign following the sale of Maya Angelou's brownstone in July. “It just really drove home the point that in Harlem that there were change-maker artists and writers that have been important to the fabric of our nation… like Langston Hughes, James Baldwin and Maya Angelou,” she said. “I feel like we, the collective, should try to preserve those places to make them into museums, into creative hubs.”
The author also hopes to launch I, Too, Arts Collective, a nonprofit that would not only fundraise but organize programs for the center.
Born in 1902, poet, playwright and fiction writer Hughes stood at the head of the Harlem renaissance of the 1920s. He co-wrote the comic play Mule Bone with Zora Neale Hurston and penned the stage musicals Simply Heavenly and Black Nativity, among others.