Nina Simone's Childhood Home Gets Permanent Protection

Sep 9, 2020

The childhood home of  legendary singer-songwriter and civil activist Nina Simone will be protected forever.

The home in Tryon, North Carolina is now covered by a preservation easement held by Preservation North Carolina, a statewide historic preservation advocacy organization. The National Trust for Historic Preservation’s African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, in partnership with World Monuments Fund (WMF)  worked with  Preservation NC to secure protection of the house.

A preservation easement is a voluntary legal agreement where  the present and all future property owners agree to permanently protect a historic building’s authentic character. However, the easement will not impede rehabilitation of the home, but ensure its historic character is maintained indefinitely and prevent demolition.

“The easement basically says the house has to be maintained. It cannot be demolished, so this is a permanent protection and it is really important - the house is protected" said Preservation NC President, Myrick Howard. 

In 2018, the National Trust, as a part of its African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, 

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.   

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. 

Preservation North Carolina currently holds over 800 easements across the state, including: Loray Mill in Gastonia, Grove Arcade in Asheville and Blackberry Hill in Tryon.  The Nina Simone Childhood Home easement was made possible, due to funding support from World Monuments Fund.