Nina Simone’s childhood home in Tryon, N.C. (Courtesy of Nancy Pierce/National Trust for Historic Preservation)
Nina Simone’s childhood home in Tryon, N.C. (Courtesy of Nancy Pierce/National Trust for Historic Preservation)

The childhood home of iconic singer and civil rights activist Nina Simone is now permanently protected as a historic place.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation’s African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, in partnership with World Monuments Fund and Preservation North Carolina, announced the preservation easement status of the Tryon, N.C., site last week.

The Trust says a preservation easement is a voluntary legal agreement in which a property owner agrees to permanently protect a historic building’s authentic character.

With the easement in place, the home is now protected indefinitely, with the agreement carrying forward to all future owners. While protecting the home, the easement will not impede rehabilitation of the home, but ensure its historic character is maintained and prevent demolition.

“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.

“When the place disappears, frequently, the story does too. Easements are one of the most important tools we have to save places and their stories. 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.”

Born Eunice Waymon in 1933, the home is where Simone taught herself the piano at age 3. In recent years, the three-room, 660-square foot clapboard house had fallen in disrepair.

Alarmed by the condition of the home and the risk of losing this connection to Nina Simone entirely, four African American visual artists—Adam Pendleton, Rashid Johnson, Ellen Gallagher, Julie Mehretu—purchased the property in 2017, according to the Trust.

“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.”

In 2018, the Trust designated Nina Simone’s Childhood Home as a National Treasure and joined with its owners and partners – World Monuments Fund, The Nina Simone Project, and the North Carolina African American Heritage Commission to preserve the home.

The Trust says the preservation of the home, which started last year is scheduled to continue this fall.

“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,” National Trust Chief Preservation Officer Katherine Malone-France said.

“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.”

Sarafina Wright –Washington Informer Staff Writer

Sarafina Wright is a staff writer at the Washington Informer where she covers business, community events, education, health and politics. She also serves as the editor-in-chief of the WI Bridge, the Informer’s...

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