In the early 1900’s, entrepreneur and philanthropist Madam C.J. Walker commissioned Vertner Tandy, the first licensed black architect in New York, to design a home for her. Walker had made her million dollar fortune by creating and marketing beauty and hair products for black women and spent $250,000 to construct the 20,000-square-foot, 34-room mansion named Villa Lewaro. In 1917 the home and its lavish furnishings were highlighted in the New York Times article, “Wealthiest Negro Woman’s Suburban Mansion.”
After Walker’s death in 1919, the home was bequeathed to her daughter A’Lelia Walker, who later sold it during the Great Depression. Economic difficulties also forced subsequent owners to sell the property. Due to increased costs to operate and maintain the historic property, the current owner intends to put Madam Walker’s home on the market.
In order to protect the property’s future preservation as an historic landmark, the National Trust for Historic Preservation recently named Walker’s Villa Lewaro to its distinguished list of National Treasures. Brent Leggs, co-author of Preserving African-American Historic Places and project manager for Villa Lewaro, has recently penned a blog post that shares Madam Walker’s legacy, her home and the preservation work being done to ensure this iconic landmark is protected for generations to come.
Learn more about the Villa Lewaro National Treasure and how you can help support the campaign here.