By Charlie Leonard
Photo: National Trust for Historic Preservation / Nancy Pierce
September 9, 2020
The National Trust for Historic Preservation’s African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, World Monuments Fund and Preservation North Carolina have secured protection for the childhood home of legendary singer, songwriter and activist, Nina Simone. Simone’s Tryon, North Carolina home is now protected by Preservation North Carolina, a state preservation advocacy organization, through a preservation easement.
“When the place disappears, frequently, the story does too,” said Preservation NC President, Myrick Howard. We are beyond delighted and honored to be a part of preserving not just Nina Simone’s childhood home, but the powerful story of her roots in North Carolina.”
Simone’s home had fallen into a state of disrepair before it was eventually purchased in 2017. The buyers group consisted of four African-American visual artists– Adam Pendleton, Rashid Johnson, Ellen Gallagher, and Julie Mehretu. “Today, Nina Simone’s legacy is as important as ever,” said Adam Pendleton. “This preservation easement is another step towards ensuring that her childhood home, and the history it embodies, persists long into the future.”
In 2018, the National Trust, through the African-American Cultural Action Fund, designated Simone’s home as a national treasure. Joined by the owners and partners– World Monuments Fund, The Nina Simone Project, and the North Carolina African American Heritage Commission– the group made a pledge to preserve the home.
“Nina Simone– legendary musician, social justice champion, and global inspiration– defied constraints placed on Black female performers in the mid-twentieth century to become the voice of civil rights,” said National Trust Chief Preservation Officer, Katherine Malone-France. “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.”
The Nina Simone Childhood Home easement was made possible by funding provided by the World Monuments Fund and the National Trust is also wrapping up a series of community engagement sessions with local organizations to benefit the neighborhood and African American community in Tryon, North Carolina.
“Since 2018, we have worked hand-in-hand with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and through them, local partners on the ground, to protect the site, and to develop a plan for its sustainable new use,” said Bénédicte de Montlaur, President and CEO, World Monuments Fund. “This is a model project that underscores the importance of preserving the cultural heritage of underrepresented groups, to ensure that these narratives and collective memories are not marginalized.”
Asheville-based architectural group, Mathews Architecture, who developed the exterior rehabilitation plan will continue the rehab process this fall with funding provided by a national crowdfunding campaign the National Trust launched in 2019.
Learn more about the Nina Simone Childhood Home in Tryon, North Carolina.