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Black Broadway star buys 1820s slave-built home, reclaiming his White House as a “generational move”

A Broadway star recently purchased an 1820-era property that was built by slaves, which he renamed White House.
A Broadway star recently purchased an 1820-era property that was built by slaves, which he renamed White House. (KPRC)

A Black Broadway star recently purchased an 1820-era property that was built by slaves, which he renamed White House.

Nearly a month ago, Robert Hartwell said he found the property, and he knew the house was for him. He called the agent who informed him that it was a cash-only offer.

He said the agent told him: “I’m sure that takes you off the table.”

“Don’t you ever underestimate a hard-working black man,” Hardwell wrote on Facebook.

The house was built in 1820 for the Russell family, who owned the cotton mill in town. Slavery was still legal.

When the agent asked Hartwell why he wanted such a large house, he said the acquisition was “a generational move.”

“I know this house is bigger than me,” Hartwell wrote. “I wish I could’ve told my ancestors when they were breaking their back in 1820 to build this house that 200 years later a free gay black man was going to own it and fill it with love and find a way to say their name even when 200 years later they still thought I would be ‘off the table.‘”

Hartwell, who appeared in productions such as Hello, Dolly! and Motown the Musical, said this is a moment of “building our own tables.”

“I’ve never been prouder to be a black man. Come to my White House (at) any time. I can’t wait to have you! Glory to God in the highest. I’m a homeowner.”

3 weeks ago I found this house online. I said “this is my house”. I called the seller and was told it was a cash only...

Posted by Robert Hartwell on Wednesday, June 24, 2020

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