Broadway Actor Robert Hartwell Buys Home Built By Slaves and Plans to "Fill it With Love”

Isabel Garcia
Photo credit: Jeffrey Ufberg - Getty Images

From House Beautiful

Buying a house is a huge—and often difficult—undertaking. And the reality is, if you're a Black person in the U.S., the process can be even harder, due to a variety of types of discrimination, from redlining to racial profiling. Former Broadway performer Robert Hartwell spotlit this reality when he took to social media this week to share his home-buying journey in an emotional post. But this story has a happy ending.

On Instagram, Hartwell, who's the founder of The Broadway Collective, posted a photo of himself standing in front of a large colonial-style house. In the caption, he details the process he went through to buy it. Three weeks ago, he saw the house listing online and immediately "knew" it was his. When he called the seller, he says that the the seller told him that it was a cash only offer. “I’m sure that takes you off the table,” the seller told him. That didn't stop Hartwell, though. "Don’t you ever underestimate a hard working black man," he writes. "I saw the house last week and when I walked in I knew I was home."

Hartwell says that the house was built in 1820, when slavery was still legal in the U.S. The home was built the Russell family, which owned the cotton mill in town. "When the agent asked me why I wanted such a large house I said it was 'a generational move,'" Hartwell writes.

"I know this house is bigger than me," he continues. "I wish I could’ve told my ancestors when they were breaking their backs 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.'We are building our own tables. I’ve never been prouder to be a black man. Come to my White House any time. I can’t wait to have you! Glory to God in the highest. I’m a homeowner."

Congratulations, Robert—we can't wait to see what you do with your new home!

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