Plans Move Forward to Reimagine Nina Simone’s Childhood Home
Stabilization work and visioning session planned for the spring
The National Trust for Historic Preservation has completed a report describing the current condition of Nina Simone’s childhood home and has offered the owners two options for stabilizing and rehabilitating the home once a re-use plan is selected. The owners have chosen to move forward with repairs that will weather-proof the home, including repairing siding, windows, and the roof. Wherever possible, original materials will be preserved to respect the structure’s historical integrity. A preservation easement, a voluntary legal agreement wherein the owner agrees to permanently protect a property’s historic character, will also be placed on the home and will carry forward to all future owners. Work to stabilize the property will begin in the spring following the selection of a project architect.
“With this report, we have laid some important groundwork in building a new future for Nina Simone’s childhood home. We join the local community and her legions of fans worldwide in anticipating great things to come at this site,” said Tiffany Tolbert, senior field officer for the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “We are committed to realizing the artist-owners’ dream of seeing this home preserved and reborn as an act of social justice and a tribute to Ms. Simone’s unapologetic pursuit of musical, personal, and political freedom.”
The National Trust will also organize a visioning workshop in Tryon this spring that will bring together the artist-owners, local artists, project partners, and preservation experts to craft a strategy for integrating arts and culture programming into all future plans for the home. The public will also be encouraged to weigh in. Following that convening, the National Trust will oversee the development of a business plan and a scope of work to guide the rehabilitation and reuse of the property.
More information about ways the public may participate will be shared on savingplaces.org/NinaSimone as details become available.
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About the Nina Simone Childhood Home National Treasure Campaign
The childhood home of Nina Simone, Civil Rights icon and revolutionary musician and singer, was named a National Treasure in June, 2018 by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The National Trust will work closely with local, state and national partners and the four visual artists who purchased the home to develop and implement a new use for the now-vacant and deteriorating yet nationally-significant property. This campaign is an effort of the National Trust’s African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, an initiative with the Ford Foundation and actress Phylicia Rashad to uncover and uplift stories of African American achievement, activism, and community.
About the Nina Simone Childhood Home
Born Eunice Waymon in 1933 in Tryon, North Carolina, it was here she taught herself the piano at age 3, performed in public for the first time at the neighborhood church where her mother preached, and where she experienced the constraints placed on black females in the rural Jim Crow South—a theme that would deeply inform her music and political activism. In recent years, the three-room, 660-square foot clapboard pier and beam house had fallen in disrepair. The vacant property was put on the market in 2016. Alarmed by the condition of the home and the risk of losing this connection to Nina Simone entirely, four African American visual artists—conceptual artist and painter Adam Pendleton, the sculptor and painter Rashid Johnson, the collagist and filmmaker Ellen Gallagher, and the abstract painter Julie Mehretu—purchased the property in 2017.