Rehab The August Wilson House!
Photo Credit: Bill Wade, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
"We Must Save This Home." --- Phylicia Rashad Visits The August Wilson House
The Daisy Wilson Artist Community, Inc., a Pennsylvania, non-profit corporation that was formed to renovate The August Wilson House (August Wilson's childhood home), and provide subsequent, extensive Arts and Culture programming to a local and global community. The structures include two buildings and the adjacent lot, which will be used for parking and an outdoor ampitheatre.
We are asking you to donate, at whatever level you can, be it $5, $500 or $500,000, to preserve and restore The August Wilson House, his childhood home. A $25 donation gets you a membership.
So, who is August Wilson and why is an Artists Community named after Daisy Wilson?
August Wilson after receiving a Heinz Award
August Wilson was an American playwright who chronicled a century of African American life in an unprecedented ten-play cycle. Wilson won many major drama awards, not the least of which were two Pulitzer Prizes and a Tony Award for his plays. He has a theater named after him on Broadway in New York City. Wilson influenced many artists onstage and off and continues to inspire young artists who are introduced to his works in American middle, high school and college classrooms. There is so much to learn about the life and legacy of August Wilson and you can do so here, in the new documentary, “August Wilson: The Ground On Which I Stand,” which premiered on PBS American Masters on February 20, 2015, 9pm EST.
Daisy Wilson is August Wilson's mother. In 1996, at the National Conference of the Theater Communications Group, August Wilson said the following of his Childhood Home:
"Growing up in my mother's house at 1727 Bedford Avenue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, I learned the language, the eating habits, the religious beliefs, the notions of common sense, attitudes toward sex, concepts of beauty and justice, and the responses to pleasure and pain that my mother had learned from her mother, and which you could trace back to the first African who set foot on the continent."
This is The August Wilson House, at 1727 Bedford Avenue in 2007, August Wilson's Childhood Home and the future home of the Daisy Wilson Artist Community, with both buildings and the land to the right. In 2016, the yellow building to the left was demolished, as its structure was too compromised to be saved.
The Buteras, an Italian family, owned a watch shop in the yellow structure to the left and a Jewish family owned Bella’s Market on the right and the main structure. The Wilson family lived in the far back, in only two rooms, which was later expanded to four rooms (see picture above). Click here to read more about the history and structure of the buildings.
It has now been nine, long years of hard work; but the renovations to The August Wilson House have begun; and we are excited to be on the road to completion to launch this arts community. It will include artists residencies, master classes, special guests, performances and more.
If you can donate as little as $5, become a member at $25 or make an even larger contribution, you will help realize a multitude of dreams to restore The August Wilson House and help continue a wonderful legacy in the arts. We can’t do it without you; and we don't want to, either.
Here is what we have done after gaining site control:
For the last few decades, Wilson's sister, Freda Ellis, gave tours of “August Wilson’s Hill District” to students, photographers, news reporters and commentators such as Ed Bradley of "60 Minutes" and she is pictured, here, giving a tour to Preservation Pittsburgh, with Architect, Jeff Slack of Pfaffman and Associates, in the background, the company that would later work directly on the project and with Rob Pfaffman joining the Board of Directors. Her daughter, American and Africana Studies Scholar, Dr. Kimberly C. Ellis, as well as Historian, Dr. Larry Glasco and then Theater Critic and English Professor, Dr. Chris Rawson---all of whom taught at the University of Pittsburgh, would take their classes on routine tours of the Historic Hill District neighborhood. Each time, we lamented the condition of August Wilson’s childhood home. When Wilson's nephew, Paul Ellis, esq., finally secured site control, we could get to work trying to preserve and restore the structure. This has been a team project from the beginning, with many different players, at varying times. We now have a wonderful Board of Directors and and an Advisory Board!
Some highlighted moments are as follows:
On May 30, 2007, we unveiled the Pennsylvania State Historic Markerat the August Wilson Childhood Home, in partnership with the Heinz History Center. It was a huge community celebration.
On February 26, 2008, the City of Pittsburgh approved the August Wilson Childhood Home as an Historic Landmark and in December 2008, Architects, Pfaffman and Associates completed the Feasibility Study, which you can read here.
In 2010, the Daisy Wilson Artist Community became a non-profit organization. Thus far, the organization has received $35,000 from The Pittsburgh Foundation for a feasibility study, $40,000 from The Heinz Endowments, $35,000 from McAuley Ministries to build the fundraising pot to save the house and $5,000 from City Councilman R. Daniel Lavelle’s office for a business plan, which was developed in part by Evan Stoddard's Community and University Honors class at Duquesne University.
When you donate to the Daisy Wilson Artist Community, every dime is well-spent and utilized.
Photo: Pittsburgh City Paper
In 2011, muralist, Kyle Holbrook and Dr. Kimberly C. Ellis, Wilson’s niece and head of the Historic Hill Inistitute, partnered with the City of Pittsburgh Summer Youth Employment Program to create the “Broken Windows Project,” turning blighted, vacant properties into artwork throughout the Historic Hill District, each reflecting the varied histories of the neighborhood. The August Wilson Childhood Home was one of the sites.
In 2012, we laid a new roof and stabilized the building.
On April 30, 2013, The August Wilson Childhood Home was placed on the National Historic Registry of Places. This is an extremely important honor and opens up a world of possibilities. We were all very excited about it! You can read the nomination here.
In 2015, we received $23,000 from a Pennsylvania Keystone Preservation Grant to complete the brick and masonry work necessary to renovate the front facade of the building:
We are delighted to have worked with Shelton Creating Associates, a partnership with the Pittsburgh Trade Institute, to do the brick and mortar facade work, further stabilizing the building. In continuing the spirit of August Wilson, we worked with this company because they hire former offenders and give them life skills for sustainable employment to lead quality lives.
This is what the August Wilson Childhood Home looked like in February 2015:
Big difference, yes?
Since then, the yellow structure to the left, which served as the Butera's watch shop, has since been demolished, as the structure was severely compromised and posed a safety threat.
We did not wait to begin offering quality progamming. So, on April 30, 2016, we closed off the streets and threw an August Wilson Birthday Block Party at The August Wilson House, all along Bedford Avenue! Artworks, live performances, dance, food trucks, vendors, a deejay and line dancing were some of the highlights! Check out the pictures! We'll be doing it again next year!
Most recently, in Summer 2016, we received a $50,000 Pennsylvania Historic Museum Commission Keystone Construction Grant to complete the side and back structures. What does it look like now? Well, check us out on Facebook to see the pictures in real time, become friends and attend our latest programming!
We are everywhere online!
Our Website is: http://AugustWilsonHouse.com
We're on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/AugustWilsonHouse
and on Twitter at (@AugustWilsonHSE): http://www.twitter.com/AugustWilsonHSE
Our initial website was graciously set up by Duquesne University students as a part of our signature partnership, which includes students working with our Board Member, Dr. Kathleen Roberts, on various projects each semester.
In April 2016, Dr. Kimberly C. Ellis, owner of Dr. Goddess Arts and Fierce Star Media, became the Digital Director and began engaging in a total rebranding of The August Wilson House, across all platforms and online. Our website is up and running but still under construction! Stay tuned!
April 18 - June 10, 2016 Hollywood Came to the Hill!
Photo: Sara Krulwich, NYT
Denzel Washington has signed on to direct all of August Wilson's Ten Play cycle, the first of which is "Fences," produced in collaboration with Paramount Pictures and HBO. He is also starring in the film, alongside Viola Davis, Russell Hornsby, Mykelti Williamson, Stephen McKinley Henderson and more! They chose August Wilson's Hill District and various places throughout the City of Pittsburgh to shoot the film. We had a great time hosting the cast and crew in our neighborhood and in our city! The film debuts on December 25, 2016---Christmas Day! Follow #FencesTheMovie!
Please join us this weekend and throughout the month of August at The August Wilson House! Come and see the progress for yourself!
August Wilson's "Seven Guitars" at The August Wilson House, August 5-28, 2016
Click here to see Buy Tickets!
See Board members, Mark Southers and Chris Rawson, discuss "Seven Guitars" and watch a Preview of the show!
August Wilson Park Opens August 6, 2016
(formerly Cliffside park, down the block from #AWHouse)
Click here to RSVP
As you can see, we are doing many great things, even as we progress towards completing the renovation of The August Wilson House. We hope we are in your hearts and you share in this local and global vision. If you donate today and spread the word, we can meet our goals, swiftly.
YOU can help complete the renovation of The August Wilson House and launch the Daisy Wilson Artist Community to provide opportunities for musical, literary, visual and dramatic artists and serve as an accessible and substantial asset for the Historic Hill District Community, the City of Pittsburgh and the world!
We have done our homework.
We have put in the hard work.
If you can donate even $5 today, we can continue our work on the August Wilson Childhood Home and make the Daisy Wilson Artist Community a reality.
We have special reward levels for donations and you can also donate offline. Since this site limits the level of donation rewards to $15,000, please click "Donate Other Amount" to give and receive the following award levels. You may also donate offline and we will report it:
A $25,000 Joe Turner's Song donation will provide all of the benefits from previous levels plus admission to one VIP event.
A $50,000 Lymon's Suit donation will provide all of the benefits from previous rewards plus admission to two VIP events. Limit 10.
A $100, 000, I Always Did Believe in Love donation will give you all prior benefits plus a customized tour of the home for two to four persons. Limit 10.
A $500,000, A Rose Just Like You Is donation will give you all prior benefits plus admission to two VIP events and a customized, one hour tour of the Hill. Limit 10.
A $1,000,000 Gem of the Ocean donation will give you all prior benefits plus a customized, one hour tour of the Hill, dinner with board members and/or August Wilson's niece or nephew. Limit 10.
Thank you for all of your support.
May All Your Fences Have Gates.
The Daisy Wilson Artist Community, Inc. at
The August Wilson House
More Important August Wilson Places and Spaces:
11 Things to Know About August Wilson
The August Wilson Theater on Broadway, New York
Performing as "Troy Maxson" in August Wilson's "Fences" on Broadway - James Earl Jones 1987, Denzel Washington, April 2007
The August Wilson Monologue Competition Learn More and Enter High School Students Here.
The August Wilson Center for African American Culture in Downtown, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
The August Wilson Mural Dedication, Fall 2014
The August Wilson Birthday Block Party, April 2016
TWO GREAT EVENTS THIS WEEKEND
at the August Wilson House (#AWHouse)!
Become a member (starting at $25) for special access to future events.
As we continue renovation on the August Wilson Boyhood Home with a PHMC Keystone Construction Grant, we are having our second event outside, following our Birthday Block Party in April 2016!
In collaboration with Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre, the Daisy Wilson Artist Community presents the backyard of the August Wilson House, which serves as the original setting for:
By August Wilson
Directed by Mark Clayton Southers
August 5 – 28, 2016
The August Wilson House
1727 Bedford Avenue
Hill District, Pittsburgh, PA 15219
(free parking and shuttle available - please see map)
It’s 1948, and aspiring blues musician Floyd “Schoolboy” Barton, just out of jail, is asked to sign a record deal after a song he recorded months before becomes an unexpected hit. Can his fight for his own humanity, self-understanding and self-acceptance succeed in the face of personal and societal ills?
August Wilson’s tragicomedy, which received Tony and Pulitzer nominations for its Broadway run in 1995, will be performed for the first time in the back yard of August Wilson’s childhood home, the actual setting of the play.
Free, secured parking will be available at the Energy and Innovation Center at 1435 Bedford Avenue, a few blocks away. (See the parking map below.) We will provide a shuttle service.
Tickets are still available, some shows have sold out!
AUGUST WILSON PARK OPENS!
You’re Invited to the Community Celebration
Saturday, August 6, 2016
2:00pm – 4:00pm
Please join us in celebrating the reopening of August Wilson Park (formerly Cliffside Park) after a complete renovation and reimagining.
Ribbon-cutting, family-friendly activities, food trucks, and fun for all! This event is rain or shine.
The August Wilson Park Community Celebration is held in partnership with The August Wilson House (the Daisy Wilson Artist Community), the Hill House Association, and the City of Pittsburgh.
We strive to make our programs accessible to everyone. Inquire about accommodations for special needs by contacting Susan Rademacher by phone 412-586-4576 ext 212 or email: email@example.com
Want more exciting programming like this?
Become a member of the Daisy Wilson Artist Community at The August Wilson House today, with at least a $25 donation!
Paul, Rob, Mark, Chris, Brian, Denise, Kimberly, Charlie, Jessica, Constanza and all of us at The August Wilson House
p.s. Are we Facebook Friends? http://www.facebook.com/AugustWilsonHouse