Lonely Planet Writer

Nina Simone's North Carolina birthplace is to be preserved as a National Treasure

In a move that will delight music-lovers, a piece of history will be protected as the birthplace of musician Nina Simone in North Carolina is to be preserved. The late American singer, songwriter and pianist, who died in April 2003 aged 70, recorded more than 40 albums and was also a civil rights activist.

Nina Simone performs on stage at the Newport Jazz Festival inn 1968. Image: David Redfern/Redferns

The star was born in 30 East Livingston Street, in Tryon, a three-roomed clapboard house at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Then named Eunice Kathleen Waymon, she was the youngest of six children, and was a musical prodigy who taught herself to play the piano at the age of three. The National Trust for Historic Preservation has now announced that Nina’s old home is the newest addition to its National Treasures programme.

The birthplace of Nina Simone, 30 Livingston Street Tryon, North Carolina. Image: Nancy Pierce

The house has been in disrepair for years, but was bought for $95,000 (€81,492) in 2017 by four African-American visual artists: conceptual artist and painter Adam Pendleton, sculptor and painter Rashid Johnson, collagist and filmmaker Ellen Gallagher, and abstract painter Julie Mehretu. Restoring it will cost an estimated $250,000 (€214,455), but the National Trust for Historic Preservation has now come on board to develop and find a new use for the house, which is one of fewer than 100 National Treasures nationwide.

Inside the house Nina Simone was born in back in 1933. Image: Nancy Pierce

It says that it will work with the new owners and the community to honour Nina’s contributions to society and to “inspire new generations of artists and activists.””The artistic and social impacts of Nina Simone reach every corner of the world, and her birthplace is an important symbol of that legacy,” says Joshua David, president and CEO of the World Monuments Fund.

A bronze sculpture of Nina Simone sitting at a keyboard can be found in downtown Tryon. Image: Nancy Pierce

A bronze sculpture of Nina sitting at a keyboard can be found in downtown Tryon, made by artist Zenos Frudakis. The restoration of this house will undoubtedly add to the town’s appeal for music-lovers, and will ultimately make it an attractive destination for Nina Simone fans.