Plans are moving forward to develop the storefront of the childhood home of August Wilson into a coffeehouse.
The building at 1727 Bedford Ave. in the Hill is owned by the late playwright’s nephew, Paul Ellis, whose dream of an artist’s community at the site took a step forward today when a group of Duquesne University Honors College students presented a plan for how they and future students will be part of the arts programming there.
I will be preparing a larger story to run in the near future on a partnership of the honors college and the non-profit that Mr. Ellis helped create, the Daisy Wilson Artist Community. Daisy was August’s mother.
The students presented their plan in the August Wilson room of the Carnegie Library branch on Centre Avenue.
Leeretta Payne, a Hill District resident who is active in her neighborhood block club, is poised to operate the coffeehouse, which will be a project of RenewPittsburgh, a volunteer organization that Kevin Acklin directs. RenewPittsburgh renovated and raised money to open BREW on Broadway Avenue in Beechview. It opened last summer.
Renew crews have cleaned out the Wilson home and it now has a new roof. They are currently working on stabilizing the building. The project has generated almost $100,000 in donations from the Heinz Endowments, McAuley Ministries and individuals.
Rob Pfaffmann, the architect on the renovation project, said the commercial storefront could be stabilized in isolation of the rest of the project so that the coffeehouse could begin to raise money and awareness for the larger project as the rest o the building is renovated.
The Daisy Wilson Artist Community is intended to become a cultural center for arts, music and literary works and presentations, with artists in residence and educational programming.