Puneet Varma (Editor)

Villa Lewaro

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Built  1916–1918
NRHP Reference #  76001289
Opened  1918
Added to NRHP  11 May 1976
Architectural style  Italian Renaissance
Designated NHL  May 11, 1976
Area  1 ha
Architect  Vertner Woodson Tandy
Villa Lewaro
Location  North Broadway, Irvington, New York
Address  Villa Lewaro, Irvington, NY 10533, USA
Similar  Madame Walker Theatre C, St Philip's Episcopal Church, Armour–Stiner House, Washington Irving Memorial, Sunnyside

Inside villa lewaro


Villa Lewaro, formerly known as the Anne E. Poth Home, is a 34-room 20,000 square feet (1,900 m2) mansion located at Fargo Lane and North Broadway (US 9) in Irvington, New York. It was the home of Madam C. J. Walker from 1918 to 1919. Walker was the first American female and first African-American female self-made millionaire, and "the world's most successful female entrepreneur of her time." The mansion is an Italianate villa house designed for Walker by Vertner Tandy, the first African-American architect registered in New York, and has been considered to be one of his greatest works. It was constructed during 1916–1918 at an estimated cost of $250,000, and was furnished lavishly. The name Villa Lewaro was coined by a distinguished visitor, Enrico Caruso, from the first two letters of each word in Lelia Walker Robinson, the name of her daughter, who later went by the name of A'Lelia Walker.

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The home was used as a conference center on race relations issues. Walker died there in 1919; the house was inherited by her daughter A'Lelia Walker who owned it until she herself died in 1931. It then became the Anne E. Poth Home for Convalescent and Aged Members of the Companions of the Forest in America. The house became a National Historic Landmark in 1976, and has been a private residence since the mid-1980s.

In 1993, Villa Lewaro was purchased by Harold Doley, founder of Doley Securities, LLC, the oldest African-American-owned and operated investment banking firm in the United States. According to the New York Post:

The Doleys upgraded the house’s mechanical, electrical, heating and plumbing systems. They reconstructed the terra cotta roof with materials from the original manufacturer and restored the wall paintings in the dining and music rooms.

Doley has hoped to attract investors to help turn the residence into a museum. During 1998 it was a designer show house benefiting the United Negro College Fund.

In May 2014, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which has designated the mansion as a "National Treasure", began a project with the active support of Doley, which it called "Envisioning Villa Lewaro's Future", to determine the appropriate re-use of the mansion, which was becoming available for purchase. Three scenarios were selected by a workshop organized by the Trust: a spa and salon, a "Center for Innovation in Technology", and a corporate events venue, while a fourth – continued residential use – was suggested by the Trust afterwards; other scenarios were rejected by the workshop, although the Trust recommended that one – a cultural arts performance venue – be reconsidered. Others have suggested that the mansion be used as a center for information about Madame Walker and Vertner Tandy, the architect. In 2017, a representative of the National Trust reported that despite the mansion's status as a National Historic Landmark "there’s no oversight or review to stop an external agency to propose changes to the building..." The Trust's concern is that significantly changing the mansion, or, worse, demolishing it, would be a slight to Walker's life achievements.

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References

Villa Lewaro Wikipedia


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