Grand opening of August Wilson House to draw family, community members and supporters like Denzel Washington

CBS Pittsburgh
CBS Pittsburgh

Grand opening of August Wilson House to draw big crowd 02:23

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — This weekend marks a historic moment in the Hill District.

The grand opening of the newly-restored August Wilson House on Bedford Avenue will draw family, community members and supporters like actor Denzel Washington to Pittsburgh on Saturday.

"Lots of feelings about this project," said Paul Ellis, founder of the August Wilson House. "Mainly a deep source of pride and gratitude."

Ellis said conversations with his uncle, August Wilson, about ways to preserve the award-winning playwright's childhood home started decades ago.

"He did not want it to be a museum," said Denise Turner, acting CEO and board president of the August Wilson House. "It would have to be something useful. That's why it's an arts center."

It's been a process, but now the building is restored, including the kitchen where Wilson had meals with his mother and siblings. It's been replicated to look as it did when Wilson was young.

"We actually hired experts who were able to remove layers of wallpaper and determine which layer existed around that 1950s and '60s," Ellis said.

"He learned to read in that very space," Turner said. "Imagine at the age of 4, taught by his mother, a strong woman raising six children by herself."

The outdoor stage has been beautified as well, ready for performances beginning this weekend.

"We will have a performance from 'Jitney,'" Turner said. "I'm so excited about our partnership with Mark Suthers and the Pittsburgh Playwrights."

Washington, who directed and starred in Wilson's Pulitzer Prize-winning play, "Fences."

"Denzel Washington, who is our major benefactor, he will be here and he will participate in the ribbon cutting, along with Constanza Romero Wilson, who is August Wilson's widow," Turner said.

Ultimately, the home will be an artistic hub for the Hill District and the city. It will be a place where local artists can learn, thrive and continue August Wilson's legacy.

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