“This House Is Bigger Than Me”—Broadway Actor Robert Hartwell Buys House Built By Slaves

Robert Hartwell house

Purchasing a home can be stressful even under the most ideal of conditions. But sometimes, home ownership is so worth it—just ask Broadway actor Robert Hartwell, who recently became a home owner in a meaningful way.

Hartwell, who is Black, recently purchased a home built by slaves. His emotional social media post about the house, the legacy of slavery, and his Black identity went viral, demonstrating the power of redefining the meaning of home.

In the Instagram post, Hartwell says that he found the house online and knew immediately that it was meant for him. But when he called the seller, he was told it was a cash-only offer—and then he was insulted when the seller told him “I’m sure that takes you off the table.”

“Don’t you ever underestimate a hard working black man,” Hartwell wrote. “I saw the house last week and when I walked in I knew I was home. The house was built in 1820 for the Russell family who owned the cotton mill in town. Slavery was still legal. 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 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. 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.”

Hartwell, who founded The Broadway Collective, a school for young actors, was congratulated on becoming a homeowner in such a special way.

“Literally ‘our ancestors’ wildest dreams,'” wrote beauty blogger Dana Oliver.

“This made me so happy,” said Todrick Hall.

We can’t wait to see what Hartwell does with the place!

Patricia Grisafi

Written by Patricia Grisafi