Nina Simone's Childhood Home -- A National Treasure -- Guaranteed Protection After Agreement With Owners
The property, which has been undergoing rehabilitation since 2018.
September 11, 2020 at 3:54 pm
The home of iconic singer Nina Simone in North Carolina will remain intact indefinitely because of an agreement which ensures protection of the property.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation’s African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund partnered with World Monuments Fund and Preservation North Carolina to establish a preservation easement, an agreement which binds all current and future owners of the property to preserve the house.
“Preservation NC has long been in the business of saving the places that matter to the diverse communities of North Carolina—and equally important, we are committed to telling the stories of those places,” Preservation NC President, Myrick Howard said in a statement.
Howard said the easement doesn't only protect Simone’s childhood home in the town of Tryon, but also preserves "the powerful story of her roots in North Carolina.”
“When the place disappears, frequently, the story does too," the president said.
Simone, who was born as Eunice Waymon in 1933, taught herself the piano at the age of three while living in the home, the National Trust stated. The three-room house deteriorated in recent years and faced the risk of demolition. Four Black visual artists named Adam Pendleton, Rashid Johnson, Ellen Gallagher and Julie Mehretu came to the rescue when they purchased the home in 2017.
“Today, Nina Simone’s legacy is as important as ever. This preservation easement is another step towards ensuring that her childhood home, and the history it embodies, persists long into the future,” Pendleton said. “We’re delighted to be working with the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Preservation North Carolina alongside many other partners to make this continuous stewardship a reality.”
The National Trust designated the singer's home as a National Treasure in 2018, aiming to preserve the legacy of Simone’s life as a singer and social justice champion. National Trust Chief Preservation Officer, Katherine Malone-France, said Simone "defied constraints placed on Black female performers in the mid-twentieth century to become the voice of civil rights."
"In order to honor and carry forward her extraordinary legacy, a group of visionary artists and preservationists have collaborated to demonstrate our commitment to equity and racial justice by protecting an American landmark in perpetuity and ensuring that Simone’s unique voice continues to inspire and empower people through her childhood home,” Malone-France said.
The property, which has been undergoing rehabilitation since 2018, will continue to receive a makeover this fall.
According to the Charlotte Observer, Simone returned to her childhood home later in her career after spending several years in France. The cultural icon, who was known for her jazz and R&B hits, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland in 2018.
The singer's story was featured in the Oscar-nominated documentary What Happened, Miss Simone?, which was released in 2015, the National Trust stated. Simone's 1965 album I Put a Spell on You, was ranked No. 3 on NPR's 150 Greatest Albums Made by Women list.
The social justice champion also defined the Civil Rights era with songs such as “Mississippi Goddam,” “I Wish I Knew How it Would Feel to be Free” and “Four Women.”
According to The Citizen Times, Simone was the sixth of eight children, born to Mary Kate Waymon and the Rev. John Devan Waymon. Simone died in France at the age of 70 following her battle with breast cancer.