Nina Simone’s Childhood Home Designated National Treasure

House in Tryon, N.C., is one of fewer than 100 U.S. locations to receive this distinction

Nina_Simone_1965
Ron Kroon/Anefo

Nina Simone in 1965

The North Carolina birthplace and childhood home of the late singer/songwriter, musician, and activist Nina Simone has been named a National Treasure by the National Trust for Preservation. According to a news release issued yesterday (June 19), the Trust will “develop and find a new use for the house in Tryon where Simone was born in 1933.” Last year, four African-American artists—conceptualist Adam Pendleton, sculptor and painter Rashid Johnson, filmmaker Ellen Gallagher, and painter Julie Mehretu—purchased the home for $95,000.

National Trust President and Chief Executive Officer Stephanie Meeks said, in an article syndicated by the Associated Press, that the Trust “will work with the home’s new owners and the community to honor Simone’s contributions to society and to ‘inspire new generations of artists and activists.’”

The three-room, 660-square-foot home went on the market in 2016 after its previous owner was unable to rally support to preserve it. Fewer than 100 locations in the United States have received the “National Treasure” designation. The Simone home, according to published reports, is now in “stable condition” and requires approximately $250,000 worth of restoration and renovation.

According to an article on Curbed.com, “This restoration will be the first such project to take advantage of the National Trust’s new African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, a $25 million, multi-year initiative announced last year focused on preserving and promoting stories of African-American achievement, activism, and community.”

Simone, who died in 2003 at age 70, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame earlier this year.

Read a JazzTimes guide to Nina Simone’s essential recordings.