The Manhattan home where author and activist James Baldwin spent the latter years of his life has been added to the National Register of Historic Places.
The NYC LGBTQ Historic Sites Project, an initiative dedicated to placing LGBTQ history in geographic context, researched the house and initiated the nomination. As part of a 2014 Underrepresented Communities grant from the National Park Service, the project has nominated a total of seven sites related to LGBTQ history to the register. Currently, the National Register contains only twenty-two LGBTQ-themed sites out of 93,500 total.
New York City designated Baldwin’s house a NYC Individual Landmark in June 2019, at the beginning of the commemorations for the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. In July, the house was added to the State Register of Historic Places. NYC LGBTQ Historic Sites Project project manager Amanda Davis said that the National Register nomination was especially important because it was “the realization of our mission, in part, to increase LGBT representation on this important official inventory of sites and to formally recognize the U.S. home most closely associated with Baldwin, a pivotal voice of 20th century America.”
Baldwin lived in the house at 137 West 71st Street from 1965 until his death in 1987. Although Baldwin did not self-describe as gay, he was open about his relationships with men and often wrote gay and bisexual characters. His novels and plays addressed important issues of race and sexuality in 20th-century America and abroad.