Two years ago, when I went out to the Hill District on a summer afternoon to watch a bunch of volunteers from Renew Pittsburgh clean out the building August Wilson grew up in, I was slightly skeptical of Paul Ellis’ beautiful vision.
I am not skeptical now.
You can get more details in Monday’s paper and post-gazette.com about the plans for 1727 Bedford Ave., but, briefly, Paul is the playwright’s nephew. He bought the property for $25,000 in 2005 after trying for years. He had already bought the one beside it.
After assembling these properties, hoping for a third, a vacant lot owned by the Pittsburgh Housing Authority, he has assembled a board of directors for the new non-profit he heads — the Daisy Wilson Artist Community, named after August’s mother.
The board has had early grants for studies. It has at-cost and pro bono offers of emergency stabilization help from Massaro Corp. and Shelton Masonry. And it is pursuing chunks of money to pay for repairing, renewing, revamping and rewarding the building with new use.
An community of artists — local and visiting — will fill it back up with life, great sentences, dialog, maybe some facial hair, genius... all the things August Wilson is known for.
Another win for the Hill!