The National Trust For Historic Preservation Names Nina Simone’s Childhood Home A ‘National Treasure’


June 25, 2018

 Photo via: Getty Images 

The Tryon, North Carolina childhood home of pianist, singer, songwriter, and activist Nina Simone was recently declared a “National Treasure” to be preserved and restored. 

After several failed attempts by different parties to acquire and preserve the home as an extension of Simone’s lasting legacy, The National Trust for Historic Preservation stepped in to deem the property a historically significant site and became involved in its restoration. 


Pictured: Eunice Waymon (Nina Simone) at about 8 age near her Tryon, NC home, Photo via: NinaSimone.com 

Four African American artists—Julie Mehretu (painter), Rashid Johnson (sculptor & painter), Ellen Gallagher (collagist and filmmaker), and Adam Pendleton (conceptualist) purchased Simone’s home together in 2017 and began various processes to preserve the home from ultimate demolition. Their acquisition of the home led to them partnering with the National Trust, among other community members and organizations, to research additional protections for the property as well as to develop a sustainable plan to restore and potentially use the home.

Photo credit: Nancy Pierce/National Trust for Historic Preservation


This restoration project will be funded by The National Trust’s $25 million African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund (AACHAF) and is anticipated to cost around $250,000. The fund, which was launched in 2017, seeks “to highlight and celebrate places that evoke centuries of African American achievement and restore African American historic sites across the country.”

“African American women in jazz and in civil rights: their legacy is often undervalued, and there’s an ongoing struggle for recognition,” Brent Leggs, director of the AACHAF campaign, told the NY Times.

Simone was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame back in April 2018 and has left behind a collection of music and musical arrangements that generations have enjoyed. Her initial dream of becoming a classical pianist was dashed by racist discrimination when she was denied admission into the Curtis Institute School of Music in Philadelphia. In spite of this major setback, Simone went on to become an international star as she merged multiple music genres with songs like “I Put a Spell on You” and “Feeling Good.” Many Simone songs can be heard in the backgrounds of commercials and movie scenes still today!


While plans of how to use the newly restored space that once inspired a young Simone remain unofficial, many supporters of the project are hopeful that the house will become a haven for future artists with the added inspiration of knowing who once inhabited the humble dwelling. 

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