Celebrities

Madam CJ Walker’s Former Mansion Could Now Be In Jeopardy… Find Out Why

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BY: NISHA THOMAS

It has now been 100 years since Madam CJ Walker walked the earth and left a legacy that can be cherished by all women of color that wish to be just like her. She was America’s first ever self-made millionaire, who’d built a mansion in Irvington, New York.

However, the sad part of it all is that her home may now be in jeopardy. The mansion has been granted it’s landmark status, however, the preservationists do worry about the future of this magnificent home as the current residents that live there are now preparing themselves to leave.

“Even though it’s a national Historic Landmark, there’s no oversight or review to stop an external agency to propose changes to the building,” Brent Leggs, a senior field officer at the National Trust for Historic Preservation told the New York Post.

However, the home is now in jeopardy. It has been granted landmark status, but preservationists worry about the home's future as the current residents prepare to move
A former wash-woman born from slaves, Walker made her fortune launching a line of hair-care products marketed specifically for black women
The 34-room Italianate manse in a neighborhood that was also home to the Astors and Rockefellers was dubbed Villa Lewaro, and was the pinnacle of Madam Walker's achievements, reported the Post
The widely publicized and well-respected 34-room mansion, which lies in a neighborhood that has been home for the Astors and Rockefellers, was labeled as the pinnacle of Walker’s major achievements, according to The Daily Mail.

It was explained that it would be a major disappointment to Walker’s family, as well as everything that she has accomplished, if this home lost it’s value. And it is important to make note that her home is one of the most important sites of Women’s History in this country, specifically in the realm of African American women’s history.

As a former wash-woman who was born to slave parents, Walker took it upon herself to make her fortune by launching a line of haircare products that were marketed specifically toward African American women.

The 34-room Italianate manse was dubbed Villa Lewaro, and the pinnacle of Madam Walker’s achievements, according to the Post.

Check out more of these beautiful images of the home and tell us what you think:

Significantly altering the home would be a blow to Walker's achievements as it is one of the most important women's history sites in the country, especially for African American women 

A $25,000 Estey organ that Walker had installed in her home regardless of the fact that she never learned how to play a musical instrument. It was in the home's music room, and was an astronomical cost at the time 

When Walker first bought the property, Hudson river town's residents thought it impossible that a black woman could afford build an Italianate manse right on the main road, but they were proven wrong
Walker had it in her will that after Lelia's death the house would go to the NAACP, but property taxes and costs associated with the home were too much for the organization. They sold it in 1932, and it became a retirement home for 40 years
Walker paid $250,000 to have the three-story home built in 1917
The original lighting fixtures, moldings and architectural elements remained, but almost none of Walker's furnishings survived, many of the treasures having been sold off by her daughter after the depression
The owners of the retirement home did not make many changes, but didn't keep it up either, according to the Post
She was only able to live in her estate for a year before she died due to kidney failure at 51, and her daughter Lelia took it over following her mother's death

In the time between Walker's death and when the Doley's bought it in 1993, the house was not kept up well. It was owned first by her daughter Lelia, then briefly by the NAACP, then it was a retirement home

When Walker moved to New York, she made aquaintance with journalists like Ida B Wells and WEB DuBois, hosted salons with writers like Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston, and took on leadership roles with the NAACP
Pictured is the current owner Helena Doley in front of the magnificient house. The Doleys upgraded the house's mechanical, electrical, heating and plumbing systems, and reconstructed the rest of the house with materials from the original manufacturer in an attempt to return it to its original grandeur, reported the Post
The National Trust had the property designated as a National Treasure in 2014, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation is looking to procure an easement to monitor the property and protect it from structural changes. They hope the house will be a public monument to Walker's legacy

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