The N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, the North Carolina Arts Council, the N.C. African American Heritage Commission and the National Trust for Historic Preservation announced this week that more than $60,000 has been raised during the North Carolina Year of Music to benefit the rehabilitation and preservation of Nina Simone’s childhood home in Tryon, N.C.
The singer and civil rights activist known as “The High Priestess of Soul” was born in 1933 in Tryon, a small community east of Asheville. Her childhood home, which has been vacant for decades, was scheduled for demolition when four New York City-based artists purchased it in 2017. In June 2018 the National Trust declared the home a National Treasure and, with support from World Monuments Fund and key state and local partners, is now working to rehabilitate and preserve the home and develop future uses for the site that honor Nina Simone’s legacy.
A crowdfunding campaign conducted this year by the National Trust raised just over $33,000 to help fund the home’s restoration.
Tiffany Tolbert, a senior field officer with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, says they are excited about the support from all around the country.
"I think it's a recognition and somewhat reawareness of where she (Nina Simone) came from. A lot of people know Nina Simone both nationally and internationally her music and activism, but really taking her story back to where she came from, Tryon, North Carolina and this three-home house and her exposure not only to music, professional music instruction but also discrimination as well as her family and their experiences."
Tolbert says Tryon is still a thriving arts and culture-oriented town.
"Where the home is located is the east side of Tryon which is primary the African American area of the town. It's a nice place to go in the mountains of western North Carolina, nice restaurants, they have a beautiful Nina Simon plaza downtown with a statue of Nina Simone. They're installing an informational kiosk in the next couple of weeks which will give people an introduction to Nina Simone and Tryon."
If you would like more information about the restoration and funding of the childhood home of Nina Simone, you can go to www.savingplaces.org/actionfund.
Click above to hear Doug Doyle's feature on the restoration plans.