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Black Broadway actor proudly buys historic house built by slaves in the 1820s

Black Broadway actor buys historic house built by slaves in the 1820s – despite prejudiced seller implying he couldn’t afford it – and says he wishes his ancestors could know ‘a free black man now owns it’

  • Robert Hartwell, an actor and dancer who has appeared in Hello, Dolly! and “Motown the Musical, posted a photo of his new home on Instagram
  • The house, which appears to be in Alabama, was built for the Russell family in the 1800s, presumably by slaves  
  • When he inquired about buying it, the seller implied that he couldn’t afford it
  • He said he wishes his ancestors could know that ‘200 years later a free gay black man’ would own the house and fill it with love
  • Robert, who is also founder of the Broadway Collective, received words of congratulations from several other actors and entertainment professionals 

A Black Broadway actor shared his immense pride on Instagram this week after buying an historic house built by slaves in the 1800s.

Robert Hartwell, an actor and dancer who has appeared in Hello, Dolly! and Motown the Musical, posted a photo of his new home on Thursday, showing himself smiling outside the impressive white house with a red door and two-story columns.

In the image’s caption, Robert explained how he knew the house was his as soon as he saw it online — and managed to snag it despite the owner implying that he wouldn’t be able to afford it. 

Home sweet home: Robert Hartwell, an actor and dancer who has appeared in Hello, Dolly! and “Motown the Musical, posted a photo of his new home on Thursday

Amazing! He shared his immense pride after buying an historic house built by slaves in the 1800s

Amazing! He shared his immense pride after buying an historic house built by slaves in the 1800s

The house was built in 1820 for the Russell family, who owned the cotton mill in the town.

Slavery was still legal at the time, so it’s probable that enslaved people built the house — something that has particular meaning for Robert,

‘Three weeks ago I found this house online,’ he wrote. ‘I said, “This is my house.”

‘I called the seller and was told it was a cash only offer and that, “I’m sure that takes you off the table.” Don’t you ever underestimate a hard working black man. 

‘I saw the house last week and when I walked in I knew I was home.

‘When the agent asked me why I wanted such a large house I said it was “a generational move.” I know this house is bigger than me. 

'I know this house is bigger than me,' he wrote. 'I’ve never been prouder to be a black man. Come to my White House any time'

‘I know this house is bigger than me,’ he wrote. ‘I’ve never been prouder to be a black man. Come to my White House any time’

‘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,’ he said. 

‘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.’

The house appears to be located in the historic district of Alexander City, Alabama, which is on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.

The family that once lived there founded the Russell Manufacturing Company in 1902, which is now called Russell Athletic and has made sports apparel for several NFL teams, MLB teams, and the Harlem Globetrotters. 

'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,' he said

‘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,’ he said

Yay! Robert, who is also founder of the Broadway Collective, received words of congratulations from several other actors and entertainment professionals

Yay! Robert, who is also founder of the Broadway Collective, received words of congratulations from several other actors and entertainment professionals

Robert, who is also founder of the Broadway Collective, received words of congratulations from several other actors and entertainment professionals.

‘This made me so happy,’ wrote Todrick Hall, while Hamilton’s Ephraim Sykes wrote: ‘So happy for you bro.’

‘YES!!!! Congratulations my man!!!’ wrote Tony Award winner James Monroe Iglehart.  

‘Oh @sirroberttakespics this fills me with so much joy, tears in my eyes to read your words, to feel your pride,’ added actress Kelli O’Hara.

Tituss Burgess, Gotham’s Cory Michael Smith, Mad Men’s Teyonah Parris, The Wire’s Dan DeLuca, and So You Think You Can Dance winner Melanie Moore were also among those to chime in.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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