The weekend of August 12-14 was a BIG DEAL for the Historic Hill District, City of Pittsburgh, America and the international community, due to the heavily anticipated Grand Opening of the August Wilson House at 1727 Bedford Avenue. Friday August 12th kicked off celebrations with the premiere of August Wilson’s, “Jitney” in the Backyard Theater of the newly renovated boyhood home of August Wilson, which received standing ovations and rave reviews throughout its entire run. On Saturday, Founding Executive Director, Attorney Paul Ellis, along with his sister and original Digital Director, Dr. Kimberly C. Ellis, stood alongside architect Rob Pfaffman, August Wilson House Board members, and Hollywood stars Russell Hornsby and Denzel Washington, alongside Mayor Ed Gainey and others, for the ribbon cutting.
Just prior to the cutting of the ribbon, the crowd cheered with elation when Paul A. Ellis received a Commemoration from the City of Pittsburgh from Councilman Danielle Lavelle and Mayor Ed Gainey noting it was “Paul Anthony Ellis, Jr. Day” in the City of Pittsburgh! The large crowd that swept around the August Wilson House heard speeches from Denzel Washington, Wilson’s widow, Constanza Romero, his niece, Dr. Kimberly C. Ellis (who is also Lower Hill Team Director of Community, Arts and Culture) and his daughter, Sakina Ansari-Wilson. At one point, there was not a dry eye in sight. The entire Grand Opening was a phased day of twelve hours of activities that began with taking a jitney shuttle to 1727 Bedford Avenue, hitting the red carpet, the celebrity ribbon cutting ceremony, the private tours of the August Wilson House, the catered lunch by Roxanne’s Catering, the African drumming to DJ Blakk Steel, August Wilson Monologue Competition performances and dancing all night long under the tent. The Lower Hill District Team was proud to sponsor this event and we look forward to continuing to support the August Wilson House. The news coverage of this event was seen in national and international news, including the New York Times!