On May 2, 2019, a new HOPE Crew (Hands-On Preservation Experience) project began at the Nina Simone Childhood Home, with support from the Fund II Foundation—the largest investment in the program’s history. Simone, whose distinctive voice, sultry blend of classical, blues, and gospel music, and penchant for activism have ensured her decades-long legacy still endures today, grew up in this modest, three-room clapboard home in Tryon, North Carolina.
Years after Simone's death, when her childhood home had long been empty, it was in danger of demolition. In response to the threat, four African American artists sprang into action and bought the home for $95,000. The National Trust named the home a National Treasure in 2018 with the aim of working with the artists and other partners to preserve the home and ensure that it will endure for generations to come.
The May 2019 HOPE Crew project is an important first step in preparing Simone's childhood home for extensive rehabilitation and reuse. According to artist and one of the home's current owners, Adam Pendleton, "We want it to become a space for cultivating a kind of present-tense thinking about history and cultural heritage that's oriented towards the future. This partnership with HOPE Crew is making that a reality."
Seven HOPE Crew participants, provided by the Schenck Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center, will be at the home for several days, repairing and repainting its exterior. Paint for the project was generously provided by Benjamin Moore, a supporter of the National Trust.
This project, among others throughout the United States, are intended to broaden HOPE Crew's scope to focus on engaging African American youth in learning preservation trades at sites tied to African American achievement and activism.
The National Trust, in partnership with World Monuments Fund and with support from additional foundations, hired an architect to guide stabilization of the home and will convene a visioning session in May with partners, local stakeholders, artists, and musicians to begin identifying future use options that will inspire a new generation.