Discover / Villa Lewaro (Madam C. J. Walker Estate)
Save a National Treasure
REGION: Northeast
LOCATION:
Irvington, NY
TYPE: Building
Villa Lewaro is the home of Madam CJ Walker. | Courtesy Historic New England/ Photo by David Bohl
Villa Lewaro is the home of Madam CJ Walker. | Courtesy Historic New England/ Photo by David Bohl
Opportunity
Identify innovative solutions for reusing Villa Lewaro and promote Madam C. J. Walker’s pioneering role in American business.

Overview

In Irvington, New York, there stands Madam C. J. Walker’s “Villa Lewaro,” a restored historic residence that embodies the optimism and perseverance of the American entrepreneurial spirit.

Born Sarah Breedlove in 1867 in Delta Louisiana, where her parents and elder siblings were enslaved, Madam Walker would become a cosmetics and business pioneer. Developing beauty and hair products for black women, Madam Walker trained nearly 23,000 sales agents and workers, serving customers in the United States, Central America, and the Caribbean. Recognized by the Guinness Book of Records for being America’s first, self-made female millionaire, Madam Walker’s achievements in the face of racial challenges of 20th century America are impressive and without comparison. The preservation of Villa Lewaro reminds us about her remarkable life once lived.

"I am a woman who came from the cotton fields of the South. From there I was promoted to the washtub. From there I was promoted to the kitchen cook. And from there I promoted myself into the business of manufacturing hair goods and preparations." – Madam CJ Walker

At the National Trust, we’re working to explore protection strategies, to understand the building’s potential, and to develop a documentary on Walker’s legacy and Villa Lewaro.

National Significance

Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1976 for its architectural significance, Villa Lewaro’s intact interiors are in good condition and the property retains a high degree of integrity. Ambassador Harold E. Doley, Jr. and Mrs. Doley has owned and lived at Villa Lewaro since 1993. Villa Lewaro was the intellectual gathering place for notable leaders of the Harlem Renaissance, such as James Weldon Johnson, Zora Neale Hurston, W. E. B. Du Bois, and Langston Hughes. Villa Lewaro is located one-half mile from Lyndhurst and three miles from Kykuit.

Campaign Goals

  • Determine financially sustainable uses for the home, beyond the house museum model.
  • Explore appropriate legal protection strategies to protect the property and the historic interiors.
  • Raise national awareness of Walker’s legacy and support for Villa Lewaro’s future preservation.

Ways To Help

Donate to our campaign to save Villa Lewaro for the benefit of future generations.

Share your story about the importance of Madam Walker’s legacy and Villa Lewaro’s preservation.

Help us identify a corporate sponsor to fund a $50K documentary film on Villa Lewaro.

Pledge your support for protecting Madam C.J. Walker’s legacy and preserving her estate, Villa Lewaro.

Posted on October 24, 2014

Written by Brent Leggs, Project Manager for Villa Lewaro National Treasure

In today’s blog post, Kathy Dixon, president of the National Organization of Minority Architects, says that the legacy of Villa Lewaro is to "continue the intent of its owner to inspire African-Americans and others to strive for greater success." I agree. With a mission-driven use, Villa Lewaro could have a strong social justice impact, and empower future generations to come.

Please check back often for additional updates on Villa Lewaro. Also, donate today to support the National Trust's ongoing work at this National Treasure.

Posted on October 23, 2014

Written by Brent Leggs, Project Manager for Villa Lewaro National Treasure

Today’s blog features A’Lelia Bundles, respected author and Madam Walker’s great-great-granddaughter, on why preservation matters at Villa Lewaro. She states, “Without this evidence, our history is easily misinterpreted and dismissed. Without something to touch and see, our children and grandchildren have no way to verify the accomplishments of the ancestors.” Preservation matters! Villa Lewaro is a lasting example of our shared cultural identity, memory, and “continuity.”

Please check back often for additional updates on Villa Lewaro. Also, donate today to support the National Trust's ongoing work at this National Treasure.

Posted on October 22, 2014

Written by Brent Leggs, Project Manager for Villa Lewaro National Treasure

Today’s blog features the amazing Jodie Patterson, co-founder and chief creative officer for DooBop.com. Written beautifully by my colleague Jessica Pumphrey, I feel inspired like Jodie to “do things from my soul.” Check it out!

Please check back often for additional updates on Villa Lewaro. Also, donate today to support the National Trust's ongoing work at this National Treasure.

Posted on October 20, 2014

Written by Brent Leggs, Project Manager for Villa Lewaro National Treasure

This week, check out featured blogs from influencers across the country as they share their love and respect for Madam C. J. Walker’s legacy. Today, Demetria Irwin, freelance writer for MSNBC’s The Grio and the Huffington Post, shares childhood and recent memories about Walker’s influence on her life. You can also read the National Trust’s newly released report entitled Envisioning Villa Lewaro’s Future in the blog entitled The Next Chapter for Villa Lewaro, Madam C. J. Walker’s "Dream of Dreams." In the report, we present four conceptual reuse scenarios to preserve the Villa Lewaro National Treasure. 

Please check back often for additional updates on Villa Lewaro. Also, donate today to support the National Trust's ongoing work at this National Treasure.

Pages

Image
Files must be less than 8 MB.
Allowed file types: png gif jpg jpeg.
By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.
Posts are moderated, and therefore do not appear immediately.
Judy Kahn on October 25, 2014
We passed this mansion many times when we lived in Sleepy Hollow, and always admired it. What a gorgeous place! We had a tour once a long time ago. Happy to see it will not be torn down!
Karl Leone on October 24, 2014
Greetings, I am a born and raised in Irvington, NY. My home was on Meadowbooke Road right next to Villa Lewaro. I was so happy to hear that the National Trust is taking action into sustaining Madame CJ Walker's legacy. Keeping her property intact means we can keep Madame Walker's legacy in tact. We as a community cannot let the property of such an honorable and generous woman go to waste. Madame CJ Walker built this estate as meeting grounds for people of all people to come together and make some kind of change. As an actor, poet, playwright and cultural activist, I am pledging to sustain the legacy of Madame CJ Walker and the property of Villa Lewaro. This house is the people's White House. I know that because I grew up on these lands, a young white boy who never forgot that a black woman and a black man built that house from the ground up. I think far to many people in this white-washed town and community have fogotten especially as new money rolls in. But I do believe there is hope in sustaining this legacy thru the arts, education, and social advocacy. I myself was inspired to research more on Village Lewaro when I moved home to Irvington after graduating from The New School for Social Research with a degree in theater and poetry. I began to sit and write at the stone wall on the aqueduct looking up at the magnificence of the home. And so I began to imagine what conflict this land had seen, what Madame had seen in her lifetime and what this home meant to her- as a kind of Heaven, a retreat from city life and her past all at once. And so I would come back to Villa Lewaro as a Irvington resident, as a writer, as a person with endless questions about this house which I grew up looking at. The many mythologies and histories of Irvington and the Hudson Valley began to overwhelm me as I made the change from living in the city to a small village again. Hermits Grave, Washington Irving, Octagon House, Sleepy Hollow, Lyndhurst, Rockefeller Estate, Madame CJ Walker are just some of the old Hudson River lore and legends that still haunt me as as a writer. The history here is boundles and when it comes down to it, what is most important is that these stories and legends never go unheard. The younger generations need to know this information and there are many ways to do that thru the arts. I am very close with the Irvington Town Hall Theater, there should be events happening alongside their events. Nowadays, Irvington is becoming an attraction for families and younger people such as myself who cant afford the city. We must take action now and use the facilities while we can to raise attention. Madame wanted to support young artists, I as a playwright felt her call and so decided to situate my play in the Gold Room and deals with notions of territory, faith, and democracy. I will be having the first read thru of this play at La MaMa theater in NYC, a theater to which I am a resident actor, director and playwright. I also work for an arts organization, Create Collect, which supports new and emerging artists develop their work in galleries and site specific locatons. We are based in NYC, Miami and soon to be LA. Please reach out to me at karlleone@gmail.com or (914)433-4492. I currently reside in Irvington. Thank you!

Take Action Today

Pledge your support for protecting Madam C.J. Walker’s legacy and preserving her estate, Villa Lewaro.

Take Action

Share This Campaign

PRESENTING PARTNER

  

Help These Places Today

  • Photo by Ron Cogswell
  • Floating by Miami Marine Stadium, an entertainment venue off the Biscayne Bay. | Photo: Rick Bravo
  • The Battle Mountain Sanitarium was established by Congress in 1902. | Photo: National Trust
  • Antiguo Acueducto del Rio Piedras. Courtesy of Para la Naturaleza
  • Photo by Amy E. McGovern
  • New York Studio School in New York City. Courtesy New York Studio School, 2009/Photo by Daniel Gerdes
  • Courtesy Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation
  • Photo by Alison King
  • Cliff Dwelling at sunset in Eastern Cedar Mesa. Photo by Donald J. Rommes
  • Photo by Carol Highsmith
  • Union Terminal. Courtesy Cincinnati Museum Center
  • Courtesy James River Association
  • Photo by Donna L. Ching
  • Photo by Burger International Photography
  • Villa Lewaro is the home of Madam CJ Walker. | Courtesy Historic New England/ Photo by David Bohl
  • Philip Johnson designed the Pavilion for the 1964-65 World’s Fair. | Photo: Duncan Kendall
  • Administration Building | Photo by Cynthia Lynn
  • Patayan-style rock art at Sears Point Area of Critical Environmental Concern. Photo by Robert Mark
  • Photo courtesy Franz Neumeier/www.steamboats.org
  • Save the Dome
  • Photo by James Higgins
  • The Mississippi Delta has been referred to as the "cradle of American culture." | Photo: National Trust
  • Sunset at Willamette Falls, the largest waterfall in the Pacific Northwest. | Photo: Brian Rockwell
  • The electrical substation at Hanford, WA, a Manhattan Project site. | Photo: National Trust
  • Union Station serves as a historic gateway to the Nation's Capital. | Photo: Carol Highsmith
  • The Milwaukee Soldiers Home was built in 1867. | Photo: Milwaukee Preservation Alliance
  • Pond Farm was the home/studio of prominent ceramicist Marguerite Wildenhain. | Photo: National Trust
  • Hinchliffe Stadium was built by public funds during the Great Depression. | Photo: Melissa Murphy
  • Photo by Gordon Beall
  • The Rosenwald Program improved education for African Americans in the South. | Photo: National Trust
  • Mount Taylor sits atop one of the richest reserves of uranium ore in the U.S. | Photo: National Trust
  • Lyndhurst is a site of the National Trust. | Photo: Brian Thomson/The Ethan James Foundation
  • The stone walls and moat of Fort Monroe. | Photo: Patrick McKay
  • The number of cruise ships in Charleston has increased exponentially. | Photo: National Trust
  • Auburn Avenue is a historically significant African American commercial area. | Photo: Stan Kaady
  • It was here that Joe Frazier trained for his victorious bout against Muhammad Ali. | Photo: Pete Marovich
  • Village of Zoar | Photo by Andy Donaldson
  • Princeton Battlefield is one of the Revolutionary War’s most significant battlefields. | Photo: Jon Roemer
  • Theodore Roosevelt first came to North Dakota in 1883 to hunt buffalo. | Photo: Dickinson State University
  • The Karnes County Courthouse in Karnes City. | Photo: Mick Watson
  • Malcolm X—Ella Little-Collins House | Photo by Steve Dunwell
  • La Jolla, CA Post Office
  • Ellis Island was known as an “Island of Hope” for immigrants. | Photo: Clara Daly/ward9.com
  • Success! Chimney Rock designated a National Monument. | Photo: Mark Roper, U.S. Forest Service
  • The Haas-Lilienthal House is an exuberant 1886 Queen Anne-style Victorian. | Photo: Jeff Scott
  • The Washington National Cathedral was completed over the course of 83 years. | Photo: National Trust
  • Nantucket Lightship is the largest U.S. lightship ever built. | Photo: Matt Teuten
  • Terminal Island played a vital role during WWI and WWII. | Photo: Los Angeles Harbor Department
  • White Grass is one of America's last, great pioneer dude ranches. | Photo: National Trust
  • Stoneman Bridge | Photo by Lee Rentz
  • Prentice Women’s Hospital opened to international acclaim in 1975. | Photo: Landmarks Illinois