PITTSBURGH, June 22, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — August Wilson House (AWH), the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright’s childhood home, is opening as an arts center for the Hill District later this summer—a tribute to his legacy, and offering educational, cultural and community programming aimed at strengthening youth, neighborhood residents, and nurturing artists and scholars locally and around the world. The Hill district, essentially a city within a city, came to life when recently freed Black men and women seeking a better life quickly found homes there along with jobs in steel mills. From the 1930s until the 1950s, the Hill District, known as the ‘crossroads of the world,’ was home to a thriving Black music, art, culture, and commerce culture.
The August Wilson House transformation is directed by the Daisy Wilson Artist Community, Inc. (DWAC), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation led by a woman of color and dedicated to the revitalization of the August Wilson House at 1727 Bedford Avenue and its surrounding Hill District neighborhood.
To support the opening, AWH launched its Legacy Brick campaign, offering August Wilson fans and AWH supporters across the country the chance to purchase commemorative and memorial bricks through a special fund-raiser. The campaign allowed Wilson supporters to make his house a home – a home for community artists – by purchasing a legacy brick that will be incorporated into the house’s restoration. Legacy bricks cost from $100 to $1,000 and will be strategically located along prominent walkways, entryways, and patios at the center.
Denise Turner, Esq., President and Acting Chief Executive, AWH describes the Legacy Brick campaign as transformational: “August Wilson is iconic and well known globally as the theater’s poet of Black America, and we are both proud and thrilled to celebrate him with this incredible arts center. He left an eternal legacy, and now his supporters and fans have an opportunity to create their own.”
The first Legacy Bricks will be part of the brick unveiling at the opening celebration of the August Wilson House on August 13, 2022
To launch the campaign, August Wilson House partnered with actor Russell Hornsby – who played Lyons in Denzel Washington’s 2010 Broadway and 2016 Academy-Award winning film adaptation of Wilson’s “Fences” – to help spread the word. Hornsby stars in a video about the brick-naming campaign. (Watch it HERE.) Beyond acting in multiple Wilson works, Hornsby also has a soft spot for Western Pennsylvania because his dad hailed from Aliquippa.
“We hope you’ll help us build on the legacy of August Wilson by celebrating his sharing of Black storytelling in his hometown and across the world,” Hornsby said about the campaign.
Already a site of cultural pilgrimage, AWH will feature restoration of the few rooms that the Wilson family lived in at the rear of the building; other spaces will showcase audio and digital exhibitions that help interpret Wilson’s work and the life and the community and culture in which he grew up. Other parts of the renovated center will include small artist studios and community gathering spaces. Outside, in a backyard theater, will be annual productions of Wilson’s American Century Cycle, his 10 plays that chronicle the 20th century.
AWH will be a spiritually rich cultural hub for the Hill District and larger Pittsburgh community, offering signature theatrical productions and events, art exhibitions and literary workshops, roundtable discussions and classes in the tradition of the Black Arts Movement. Ultimately, AWH will be a catalyst in the Hill’s revitalization, linking with other Hill institutions (some being restored themselves) into a network of revival. Wilson left a significant legacy in Pittsburgh, on Broadway, throughout the nation and in his two later home cities, St. Paul, MN, and Seattle, WA, where he settled in 1990 in the midst of composing his monumental, 10-play cycle chronicling African-American life in the twentieth century; he ultimately passed in Seattle, WA in 2005.
SOURCE August Wilson House