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Villa Lewaro - TravelStorys

Tarrytown, Sleepy Hollow, Irvington

Location Trip Time Travel Type
New York 3 hours

Villa Lewaro

Here in front of you is Villa Lewaro, the grand estate of Madame C.J. Walker. Madam Walker was born Sarah Breedlove shortly after the Civil War to parents who had been enslaved. At age fourteen, she married and had a daughter named A’Lelia. Sarah had a true entrepreneurial spirit, and after establishing herself as a businessperson, she became known as "Madam C.J. Walker". Madam C.J. Walker created and sold hair products to African American women and further empowered many African American women by teaching them how to sell her products. Her first shop was in Denver but she soon opened up operations in Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, and New York City. She became one of the wealthiest African Americans of the early 20th century and was the first recorded self-made female millionaire in the United States! In 1916 she purchased land in Irvington, deliberately choosing her property to be located along what was then known as "Millionaires' Mile," known for its homes of the very wealthy. She hired Vertner Tandy, the first African American architect registered in New York, to design the stately Italianate villa you see today. The name Villa Lewaro was coined by distinguished tenor Enrico Caruso created from the first two letters in each word of "Lelia Walker Robinson." Madam C.J. Walker was also a vocal advocate about the poor treatment of African Americans. The home has been used as a conference center focusing on race relations, and as a meeting place during the Harlem Renaissance. W. E. B. Dubois and Langston Hughes visited here. Villa Lewaro was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976 and was designated a National Treasure in 2014. Madam C.J. Walker's home stands to this day as a reminder for all of us: with self-motivation and hard work, and in spite of the prejudice directed at African-Americans and female entrepreneurs at the time Walker achieved great success. Although Madame CJ Walker died shortly after the estate was completed, her daughter, A’Lelia Walker Robinson continued to use the house during the 1920s for cultural and literary gathering as part of the Harlem Renaissance.”

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