*Madam CJ Walker, America’s first female self-made millionaire, built a magnificent mansion in Irvington, New York nearly 100 years ago… and now the 34-room Italianate manse is up for sale.
Villa Lewaro is located in a neighborhood that was also home to Rockefellers and Astors and it cost Walker $250K, RollingOut reports. Walker was 49-years-old at the time she purchased the mansion, and as A’Lelia Bundles, Walker’s great-great-granddaughter, tells The Post, “It was symbolic for her.”
“For her to buy property in one of the wealthiest communities in America and then build this home, one generation out of slavery, it was her American dream,” she said.
Walker made her fortune by developing and marketing a line of beauty and hair products for black women through Madame C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company, the successful business she founded. Sundial Brands recently launched a new line of Madam C.J. Walker de-frizzing products, and Oscar-winning actress Octavia Spencer has signed on to produce and star in a TV series based on Bundles’ biography on Walker titled “On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C. J. Walker.”
Madam C. J. Walker was also known for her philanthropy and activism. She made financial donations to numerous organizations and became a patron of the arts. Villa Lewaro served as a social gathering place for the African American community.
While Villa Lewaro has been granted Landmark status, preservationists are concerned about the home’s future because its current stewards, Harold and Helena Doley, who bought the house in 1993, are getting ready to move.
“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,” said Brent Leggs, a senior field officer at the National Trust for Historic Preservation.