Keats Home Reopens; Hughes Home Foreclosed

Adrian Versteegh

Two sites of literary history met very different fates last week. In London, the former home of Romantic poet John Keats was reopened to the public after a £500,000 (approximately $820,475) restoration. Meanwhile, in Cleveland, the house where Langston Hughes lived as a teenager was sold in a foreclosure auction for $16,667.

Renovations on Keats House, which the poet occupied between 1818 and 1820, began two years ago with the aim of restoring the home to its original décor. The building, a Regency villa near Hampstead Heath, has been a museum since 1925. Reopened on Friday, it now features period wallpaper, prints, and drawings, and showcases the engagement ring Keats gave Fanny Brawne, the girl next door. Both the home and garden “have been beautifully restored to a living environment that John Keats would have recognized almost two hundred years ago,” said Michael Welbank, chairman of the City of London’s Hampstead Heath Management Committee, in a press release.

On Cleveland’s east side, the former home of author Langston Hughes became another victim of the foreclosure crisis when it was put on the block at a sheriff’s auction in February. The historical significance of the two-and-a-half-story wood-frame building went unnoticed until last week, when a librarian discovered that Hughes had moved to the house around 1917 while attending Cleveland’s Central High School. Despite efforts by a local community group to claim the site, the Plain Dealer reports that Wells Fargo, which owns the home, intends to sell it as soon as possible.