The estate of the late gay rights leader Frank Kameny has sold Kameny’s house at 5020 Cathedral Ave., N.W., for $725,000 without the services of a realtor, according to estate attorney Glen Ackerman.
Ackerman said the settlement for the sale of the house took place May 25. He declined to identify or provide information about the buyer other than that he or she is a private individual who likely plans to live in the house, which is located in the city’s upscale Palisades neighborhood.
In March 2009, the D.C. Historic Preservation Review Board designated the house as an historic landmark, marking the first time a gay-related site had been approved for landmark status in the nation’s capital. Shortly after Kameny’s death in October 2011, the U.S. Park Service listed the house on the federal government’s National Register of Historic Places.
The Rainbow History Project, a local LGBT group that submitted the successful application to obtain the landmark designation from the D.C. government, said that beginning in the 1960s, the house became an office and center for carrying out Kameny’s widely recognized role as a local founder and national pioneer of the modern gay rights movement.
“Historians consider him a landmark figure in articulating and achieving gay civil rights in federal employment, criminal law, security clearances cases, and in reversing the medical community’s views on homosexuality,” the Rainbow History Project said in its application for the historic designation.
Mark Meinke, a Rainbow History Project official, and Charles Francis, co-founder of the Kameny Papers Project, which arranged for the purchase of most of Kameny’s historic papers and their donation to the Library of Congress prior to Kameny’s death, had expressed interest in converting Kameny’s house into an LGBT history center or possible museum. Both talked about this prior to Kameny’s death.
But Meinke told the Blade on Monday that no serious effort emerged to move ahead with such a proposal.
“It was more of a pipe dream,” said Meinke.
Under the city’s and federal government’s historic designation, the new owner of the house is prohibited from demolishing it or making major external changes. Under D.C. regulations, some external change could be made upon approval by the city.
Ackerman said the publicity surrounding Kameny’s death and the subsequent tributes and memorial services recognizing him as a nationally acclaimed civil rights leader prompted potential buyers of the house to approach the estate. Ackerman said the house was not listed for sale on normal real estate listing services.
The new owner of the Kameny house, like the owners of all real estate, will be identified in public city records. As of Monday, the sales transaction had not been published in the online site of the D.C. Recorder of Deeds, which keeps real property ownership records.
In his will, Kameny designated Timothy Clark, his friend and housemate of 19 years, as the beneficiary of his house, car, and all other property other than his papers, which he bequeathed to the Library of Congress.
Ackerman said the probate process for the estate has yet to be completed.