Nina Simone house assessed
Published 3:14 pm Friday, February 1, 2019
Work on the house scheduled to begin this spring
TRYON — The National Trust for Historic Preservation recently completed a report on the current condition of Nina Simone’s childhood home in Tryon.
The new owners, who purchased the house in March 2017, were given options for stabilizing and rehabilitating the home.
The owners of the Nina Simone childhood home are African-American artists Adam Pendleton, Rashid Johnson, Ellen Gallagher and Julie Mehretu.
The owners chose to make repairs to weather proof the house, including repairing siding, windows and the roof, according to the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Work to stabilize the house will begin in the spring following the owners choosing an architect.
Original materials will be preserved to keep with the home’s historic integrity.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation said a preservation easement, a voluntary legal agreement where the owner will agree to permanently protect a property’s historic character will also be placed on the home. That easement will carry forward to any future owners.
Nina Simone’s childhood home is located at 30 East Livingston Street, just outside downtown Tryon.
Simone, born in Tryon as Eunice Kathleen Waymon on Feb. 21, 1933, lived in Tryon until she was a teenager prior to going to school for music in Asheville.
She was born to John Divine Waymon, a dry-cleaning shop owner and mother Mary Kate Waymon, who was a Methodist minister. Simone first played piano in churches in Tryon’s eastside neighborhood and Tryon residents pooled money to give Simone piano lessons with Tryon’s Muriel Mazzanovich, whom locals called “Miss Mazzy.” Mazzanovich began teaching Waymon when she was 10 years old after the community noticed her talent. Waymon started playing the piano when she was three years old.
Later in life, around age 25, Simone began playing and singing at a bar in Atlantic City and it was then she decided to change her name from Eunice Waymon to Nina Simone. Her new name not only sounded better than Eunice Waymon, but Simone also said she didn’t want her strict minister mother to know she was singing in a bar.
Simone was also a Civil Rights activist as an adult.
She died at age of 70 in 2003 at her home in France.
The Town of Tryon later built the Nina Simone Plaza downtown that features a life-sized sculpture of Simone sitting at a piano.
The three-room house is 664 square feet and still looks much like it would have in the 1930s.
“With this report, we have laid some important groundwork in building a new future for Nina Simone’s childhood home. We join the local community and her legions of fans worldwide in anticipating great things to come at this site,” said Tiffany Tolbert, senior field officer for the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “We are committed to realizing the artist-owners’ dream of seeing this home preserved and reborn as an act of social justice and a tribute to Ms. Simone’s unapologetic pursuit of musical, personal, and political freedom.”
The National Trust is planning a visioning workshop in Tryon in the spring to bring together the owners, local artists, project partners and preservation experts to create a strategy for integrating arts and culture programming for the home. The public will be invited to the workshop.
People can find more information about the project at savingplaces.org/NinaSimone.