Most Pittsburghers know who Teenie Harris is, but did you know his brother was legend in Pittsburgh history as well? William “Woogie” Harris was instrumental in the Pittsburgh we know today. He was a number runner and one of the cities few black millionaires. His generosity helped fund minority owned businesses and institutions when regular banks would not. In the 1930’s he purchased an estate on a hillside in Homewood which became a staple is Black Society life.
Originally know as The Mystery Manor, the National Negro Opera House was frequented by numerous American Elites. Cab Calloway, Joe Louis, Lena Horne and Count Basie are just a few of the names that stayed and played in this luxurious home. Roberto Clemente even resided here briefly. One of the most infamous stories to come from these times was that of a card game in the basement. The story is told on that night Rooney won The Steelers in a card game from a man who did not have enough money to cover his bet.
The property is now a historical landmark because of it’s role in housing the National Negro Opera. Founded by Mary Cardwell Dawson in 1941. The first American troupe of its kind, they were revered for their talents and traveled the country.