Madam C.J. Walker’s Mansion to Become a Think Tank for Women of Color Entrepreneurs

0
964

Madam C.J. Walker, born Sarah Breedlove in 1867 to freed
slaves in Delta, Louisi­ana, became the nation’s first self-made female
millionaire and beauty pioneer after devel­oping a successful hair-grow­ing
tonic.


Madam C.J. Walker’s Villa Lewaro was designed and completed 100 years ago by Vertner Tandy, the first licensed Black architect in New York State, and a founder of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. Credit: A’Lelia Bundles/Madam Walker Family Archives/Courtesy of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.


Now, her estate will serve as the site of a learning
institute for women of color.


The National Trust for His­toric Preservation announced last
month that the New Voices Foundation purchased Walk­er’s home, called Villa
Lewaro, for an undisclosed amount. The foundation functions as the nonprofit
wing of the $100 mil­lion New Voices Fund, which supports women of color entre­preneurs.


The Dennis Family, includ­ing entrepreneur Richelieu Dennis,
who also founded the New Voices Foundation, facili­tated the recent
acquisition, and will spearhead its revitaliza­tion.


“We are excited to announce that the vision for future use
of the property is as a learning in­stitute, or think tank, to foster
entrepreneurship for present and future generations,” Den­nis said in a
statement.


“This includes utilizing Vil­la Lewaro as both a physical
and virtual destination where women of color entrepreneurs will come for
curriculum-based learning and other resources aimed at helping them build, grow
and expand their busi­nesses. When people think of entrepreneurship services
for women of color, we want them to think of the New Voices Foundation and
Villa Lewaro.”


Walker’s 28,000-square-foot property was designed and
completed 100 years ago by Vertner Tandy, the first licensed Black architect in
the state of New York and a founder of Al­pha Phi Alpha fraternity.


Walker was the first person of color to own property in
Irving­ton. During the time it was built, Villa Lewaro was located on
“Millionaire’s Row” in an area that was also home to the Astors and
Rockefellers.


The pioneer’s great-great-granddaughter A’Lelia Bundles, a
biographer, as well as brand historian, said in a statement:


“No one at the time believed that a Black woman could afford
such a place. So, I can think of no better way to celebrate Villa Lewaro’s
100th anniversary than the vision of the New Voic­es Foundation and the Dennis
family for this historic treasure as a place to inspire today’s en­trepreneurs,
tomorrow’s leaders and our entire community.”


In 2013, the Dennis family first reignited the Black million­aire’s
cultural, entrepreneurial and hair care legacy through the acquisition of the
Madam C.J. Walker brand. The family will now continue her legacy of cre­ating a
space of empowerment for Black people.


Villa Lewaro was designated a National Historic Landmark in
1976.


For the past 25 years, it has served as the family home of
Ambassador Harold E. Doley, Jr. and his wife Helena.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here