Lorraine Hansberry’s Former NYC Home Now A Historic Site

National Portrait Gallery. Photo by David Attie for Vogue Magazine

“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 in American history.”

The former residence of playwright Lorraine Hansberry is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, officially marking the spot as a landmark for LGBTQ+ history. 

Hansberry, the celebrated American playwright whose work, “Raisin in the Sun” was the first play by a Black woman to appear on Broadway, lived at the 337 Bleecker Street home in Greenwich Village from 1953-1960. The site was first nominated to the Register earlier this year, and was officially listed in April. 

337 Bleecker Street
Photo by Christopher D. Brazee/NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project

“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 in American history,” says Amanda Davis, Project Manager with NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, in a statement posted on Instagram. “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.” 

Davis added that the addition of the residence into the Register, along with its proximity to the 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.” 

Hansberry originally moved into the residence with then husband, Robert Nemiroff, in 1953, and maintained the apartment after she and Nemiroff separated in 1957. She identified privately as a lesbian and was an early member of the New York chapter of Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin’s “Daughters of Bilitis.” She was an early contributor to the organization’s magazine, and also composed four lesbian-themed stories under the pen name, Emily Jones, which appeared in various gay publications. 

Hansberry died of pancreatic cancer in 1965, just shy of her 35th birthday.    


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