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A luxury apartment complex will replace James Baldwin’s former home in the French village of Saint-Paul-de-Vence, despite a campaign to save the house, The New York Times reported.

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The campaign’s apparent failure is a disappointment to Shannon Cain, the American novelist who has spearheaded the effort to preserve the site. Before news of the eminent demolition, Cain said she felt “privileged to be alive at this moment on earth when James Baldwin’s house is in danger and I happen to have the skills and temperament” to help save it from destruction.

Cain created the organization His Place in Provence last year to raise money and rally support to purchase the property, which is almost 6 acres, and convert it into a writer’s retreat that honors Baldwin’s legacy. However, the organization lacks the support of Baldwin’s family. “To me the issue is very straightforward: It’s about representation. Who gets to represent James Baldwin’s legacy and who gets to speak about who he was,” Baldwin’s niece, Aisha Karefa-Smart, told the newspaper. The property developer said the complex, called Le Jardin des Arts, is scheduled to open by June 2019. Four units have already been reserved.

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Baldwin moved to France in 1948 but settled in the medieval village in 1970, where he lived until his death in 1987. The wing of the house where Baldwin lived was demolished a few years ago, and the two remaining houses on the property are in disrepair. The Baldwin family lost control of the property more than 10 years ago. While living at the house, Baldwin penned several works, including the novel “If Beal Street Could Talk.”

SOURCE:  New York Times


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