Broadway Star Robert Hartwell Buys House Built by Slaves: 'I've Never Been Prouder to Be a Black Man'
Robert Hartwell's latest purchase comes with a lot of history.
The Broadway star, who appeared in productions such as Hello, Dolly! and Motown the Musical, announced on Wednesday that he bought a house built by slaves as a way to reclaim it and "fill it with love" in honor of his ancestors.
Sharing the news alongside a photo of himself proudly standing next to the home, Hartwell said the seller initially told him he was "off the table" because the property owner was only accepting cash.
"3 weeks ago I found this house online. 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,' " he recalled on his social media accounts.
However, Hartwell didn't let the comment deter him from purchasing the home.
"Don’t you ever underestimate a hard working black man," he wrote. "I saw the house last week and when I walked in I knew I was home."
He continued, "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."
The Broadway Collective founder went on to explain that he wanted to purchase the house as a way to pay tribute to those who built it, writing, "I wish I could’ve told my ancestors when they were breaking their back 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," he added. "Come to my White House any time. I can’t wait to have you! Glory to God in the highest. I’m a homeowner."
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Many of Hartwell's followers quickly flooded his comments with congratulatory messages.
"So happy for you bro💪🏾🙌🏾🖤," Hamilton star Ephraim Sykes wrote.
"YES!!!! Congratulations my man!!!💙💙💙," Tony Award winner James Monroe Iglehart commented.
"Oh @sirroberttakespics this fills me with so much joy, tears in my eyes to read your words, to feel your pride," actress Kelli O'Hara shared. "Love you, friend."
"Amen AMEEEEEN!!! CONGRATULATIONS, BROTHA!!! 🖤🙏🏾🙌🏾," Mad Men alum Teyonah Parris said in a comment.