Paul Robeson and his family lived in an apartment in this 13 story apartment building from 1939-1941, upon his return from living and performing in Europe. The "Renaissance man" who lived in this apartment was renowned for his rich baritone voice, superb acting ability, and passionate zeal for racial and human justice.
Paul Robeson was a gifted student and athlete while attending Rutgers University in New Jersey. He was a brilliant Phi Beta Kappa student, two time All American football player (1917-1918), and won honors in debating and oratory.
He graduated from Columbia Law School but gave up law to pursue a career in singing and acting. Robeson performed on Broadway, and is noted for his leading roles in Othello and Eugene O'Neill's play, Emperor Jones, and his stunning rendition of the song "Ole Man River" in the musical Showboat.
In 1934, he visited the Soviet Union, where he felt fully accepted as a black artist. During World War II, he entertained troops at the front and sang battle songs on the radio.
Despite his war efforts, he was labeled "subversive" by McCarthyites, who were wary of his earlier trip to the Soviet Union, his support of the 1947 St. Louis picketing against segregation of black actors and a Panama effort to organize the mostly-black Panamanian workers.
In 1937, Robeson wrote, "the artist must elect to fight for freedom or for slavery. I have made my choice. I have no alternative." He continued this fight for freedom, both political and artistic, until his death in 1976.
The Paul Robeson Residence is a National Historic Landmark.
This building is not open to the public.