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Nephew Preserving August Wilson's Home

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- The nephew of late Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson has begun renovating Wilson's boyhood home and wants the city to designate it a historic structure.

Paul Ellis Jr. made his request to the city's Historic Review Commission on Wednesday. The commission will vote on it Aug. 1 and, if approved, the measure would then have to be approved by the city planning commission and City Council.

Ellis, 37, lives about a block away from where his famous uncle grew up in the city's Hill District, once a nationally known center of black culture and cuisine that is now wracked by poverty and crime.

Wilson died Oct. 2, 2005, at the age of 60 of liver cancer. His landmark dramas, such as "Fences" and "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom," were part of an astounding 10-play cycle, nine of them set in Pittsburgh, that chronicled the black experience in America. He won two Pulitzers — for "Fences" and "The Piano Lesson" — a best play Tony award for "Fences" and best play Tony nominations for six of his other plays.

Ellis told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that he's renovating the house to look like it did when Wilson was a child, and called the project "physically and emotionally draining."

"What keeps me going is the spirit of my uncle and the desire to make a significant contribution to my community," Ellis said.

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