Should Money Be Spent to Restore a House Where Langston Hughes Once Rented a Room?

The Cleveland Landmarks Commission wants to designate as a historic landmark an 1890s home where Langston Hughes rented a room. The African-American poet lived in the home when he was a high school student. The home is referred to in several of Hughes’ poems. It is estimated that it would cost at least $100,000 to restore the home.

Anne Trubek, an associate professor of English at Oberlin College in Ohio, is the author of the forthcoming book, A Skeptic’s Guide to Writers’ Houses. Professor Trubek believes that making writers’ homes into museums may not be the best use of money. She speculates that funds raised to restore a writer’s home would be better used to distribute copies of his or her work to young students. She notes that homes restored to honor Edith Wharton and Mark Twain were foreclosed on last year.