Eugene H. Webb, who was raised in racially segregated Alabama with modest ambitions, but who after transplanting himself to Harlem established what became the nation’s largest Black-owned real estate management company, died on April 5 at his home in Mount Vernon, N.Y. He was 102.
His death was confirmed by Webb & Brooker, the New York-based management, leasing and sales company he founded with George M. Brooker in 1968, which oversaw thousands of apartments generating tens of millions of dollars in rents.
In addition to his role at the firm, where he became chairman emeritus, Mr. Webb was among the founders of Carver Federal Savings Bank and of Freedom National Bank (which closed in 1990 during a recession). Both banks earned a reputation for lending to prospective Black and Hispanic home buyers in neighborhoods like Harlem, where applicants had been reflexively rejected by other banks.
Mr. Webb also played a prominent role in Harlem’s contentious redevelopment history, when new projects often raised fears that old Harlemites would be pushed out. He was part of the team that built the $60 million Renaissance Plaza on West 116th Street in the late 1990s, which includes 240 cooperative apartments and more than 60,000 square feet of retail space.
the HistoryMakers Digital Archive in 2004.
He dropped out of Miles College in Fairfield, Ala., to marry and worked in a coal mine before finally getting his dream job in a steel mill. After a little more than a year, he decided that he had higher aspirations and it was time to move on.
The New York Times that year. “Do you realize what that means if that money is channeled to local businesses to hire Black plumbers, painters and contractors?”
He and Mr. Brooker founded the Harlem Real Estate Board, where Mr. Webb served as president. After Mr. Brooker died in 1993, Mr. Webb assumed a policymaking role at the real estate firm and assigned operating control to Bernard Warren, who remains president.
Mr. Webb was a trustee of Miles College and of Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
His survivors include his third wife, Danna (Wood) Webb, a lawyer, whom he married in 1999; his daughter, Brenda; five grandchildren; seven great-grandchildren; and one great-great-grandchild.