24. James Weldon Johnson Residence (1925)

James Weldon Johnson Residence

At 187 West 135th Street in Harlem is the James Weldon Johnson Residence, where its namesake author and civil rights advocate lived from 1925 until his death in 1938. While living in the apartment, Johnson served as General Secretary of the NAACP. The five-story brick building was designed in the Romanesque style and features a curved corner bay. Johnson passed away in a car accident in Maine, and over 2,000 people attended his funeral.

Johnson was a pioneer in many different artistic fields like music, literature, and law. He is perhaps best known for composing the lyrics to “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing,” which became known as the “Negro National Anthem” and was written to honor Booker T. Washington. Johnson also worked as a songwriter on Broadway and composed an opera called Tolosa with his brother satirizing the U.S. annexation of the Pacific islands. Johnson described his experiences living in post-Reconstruction America in his famed autobiography The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man, and he was a prominent Harlem Renaissance figure after publishing the poetry collection God’s Trombones: Seven Negro Sermons in Verse. While working with the NAACP, Johnson became the first African-American professor to be hired by New York University, and he also taught literature at Fisk University in Nashville.