The Baltimore Sun from Baltimore, Maryland on November 25, 1998 · Page 2
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The Baltimore Sun from Baltimore, Maryland · Page 2

Baltimore, Maryland
Issue Date:
Wednesday, November 25, 1998
Page 2
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Page 2a : Wednesday, November 25, 1998 : The Sun Sun Journal A monument to what 'a lone woman9 made . Wmmt Madam C. J. Walker amassed her fortune through cosmetics for ' frican-American women. it.. . ' I-. . . ner mansion near iew lorn is todaQ the site of a fundraiser and an appreciation of the woman who built it. 1 By Erin Texeira BUN STAFF IRVINQTON-ON-HUDSON, ' N.Y. In the early 1900s, one of America's first black millionaires set out to build a country mansion ' in this exclusive New York neigh- borhood. It was to be grand and opulent and positioned near a major thoroughfare for all to see. Her soon-to-be neighbors were ' incredulous. "Impossible," one resident told ' a newspaper in 1917. "No woman of her race could afford such a place." Madam C. J. Walker, the ambitious daughter of slaves who ; helped pioneer African-American hair-care products, ignored them. She vowed that her 35-room Re-' naissance Revival mansion on North Broadway "that only Negro money had bought" would stand as a monument to "what a lone woman had accomplished." ' It did then and it does today, perhaps more than ever. ! The house Walker built in 1918 became a swank 1920s gathering place for prominent black New Yorkers, but it lost its luster while ( serving a 50-year stint as a convales-' cent home. Now, the cream-colored ' house with its ancient trees is again black-owned and has recently undergone extensive renovations. ; From the original hand-painted ceilings and ionic columns to the dozens of stained-glass windows "and sweeping marble staircases, ' every detail of the three-story Villa 'Lewaro named for Walker's - daughter, Lelia Walker Robinson ' and a two-bedroom carriage house nearby has been lovingly tended to. Last month, the project which ,is estimated to have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars culminat-"ed in a gala reopening attended by hundreds of people, including Walker's great-great-granddaughter A'Lelia Bundles. Although it is a private home, the 20,000-square-foot house with third-floor views of the Hudson River will be available for public tours until Sunday. "Madam Walker was an incredible woman, but she wasn't the only one of her time who was," says Bundles, assistant bureau chief for ABC News in Washington, who is writing a biography of Walker. "She just took it to the highest height. If a child can walk through the house and see their own potential, she would be happy." Initially, Villa Lewaro was seen as a shining example of black talent and success, a reflection of how far African-Americans and Walker herself had come barely a generation after slavery's end. Born Sarah Breedlove on a Louisiana plantation in 1867, Walker picked cotton in Mississippi as a young woman and spent years washing clothes in St. Louis. When catling by 9 Reading by 9, a long-term program of The Sun, is based on the assumption that children should become skilled reader? by third grade. These companies 1 Pays For Your Paper I l l m CO 01 C'-r'jM",",,',,,,,'''H 'I .I t 1 . n i i U k I rbf& . M i 1 i W t . : i 1 E- HI 9 1 11 id I f i : -' f " - 1 7 Renovation: n i993, Harold Doley (above) and his wife, Helena, bought the mansion built by Madam C. J. Walker. After 50 years of serving as a convalescent hospital, the 35-room building had deteriorated. "The roof was like a sieve in some places," says Doley, an investment banker and history buff. a scalp condition caused much of her hair to fall out, she experimented with home remedies and then worked for an early manufacturer of black hair products. About 1905, Walker's own hair-conditioning formula came to her in a dream or so she said. Her hair grew back, and her friends and neighbors began buying the product, named "Madam Walker's Wonderful Hair Grower." She married Charles Joseph Walker, a newspaper salesman who lent his marketing know-how to her blossoming business. Within a few years, she had opened colleges for "hair cultur-ists." She promoted her products across the country and in Central America and the Caribbean. At its peak. Madam C. J. Walker Manufacturing Co. employed more than 2,000 sales agents and ran a large mail-order business. In 1916, she bought property in Irvington-on-Hudson, then considered the wealthiest residential community in the country, and commissioned architect Vertner Woodson Tandy to build what she called her "dream of dreams." At the housewarming party in Inside The Sun Today: Decipher the clues to figure out the mystery athlete in Sports Illustrated for Kids Weekly, and meet Dallas Burn soccer star Mark Santel. It's Just for Kids. Page 5e) Today: in "song and Dance Man," by Karen Ackerman, a box of treasures in the attic takes Grandpa and the grandchildren back to the vaudeville days. Page 10e are proud to support the objectives of Reading by 9 Today's coupon value: $25.00 Ixmk hero cvt'i'v day for a "Sun SiiM'r Saver" i- mi kiii with h Milne eiiial In in neater than the cdsl of your llallimore Sun newspaper. Call ( v t 1 I i ASSOCIATED PRP88 August 1918, Walker pursued what had become another big passion: promoting black excellence and progress uplifting the race, as it was called. In a reception hall dripping with hand-woven silk carpets and rare tapestries, she played host to administrator and author Emmett Jay Scott and other black leaders to discuss anti-lynching efforts and the treatment of black war veterans. Scott later wrote, "No such assemblage has ever gathered at the private home of any representative of our race, I am sure." In her activism, she often got a cold shoulder from whites and black men. Booker T. Washington snubbed her for years, discounting her entrepreneurial efforts because she was a woman. A year after she moved into Villa Lewaro, Walker fell ill while traveling. She died in 1919 of kidney failure caused by hypertension. She had sold hair products for 13 years and had an estate estimated at $2 million. Her daughter inherited the house and turned it into a country getaway for New York's black elite. It eventually was bequeathed to Tomorrow. What is Spanglish? It's like a secret language. You may have heard it without knowing what it was. Check it out in KidNews. Page Uf f-f i Pre National I Tl i I HaJI IIMIIUIIMI oMkWW Rank of Maryland Initial 3 In-Store Design consultation Towson 410-82Wi200 C&tousville 410-719-6900 Westminster 41(V87tt-2228 f-URNITURE forapiioiiitment hihiii mhI (mviml conMilintinii ntv ( nl I iiuihhi hit m i mil wt viMI nun bi- 1, l:'yiir; :i .l'i'v J I f -v : t : J Entrepreneur: Madam C. J. ' Walker, shown here in about 1912, was the daughter of slaves. the NAACP, but during the Depression, upkeep costs forced its sale to a convalescent hospital called Companions of the Forest. Elderly and ailing women occupied Villa Lewaro for a half-century. Legend has it that the house was nearly demolished in the 1980s to make way for condominiums. But this town, the birthplace and home of author Washington Irving, had outlawed removing ancient trees. Villa Lewaro and its 200-year-old beech and ginkgo trees was saved. (The house had been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1976, but the designation does not bar private owners from making architectural changes, including demolition.) It had greatly deteriorated by the time the current owners, Harold and Helena Doley, bought it in 1993. Doley, a history buff who had long been fascinated by the house, says, "Oh God. I don't even want to remember those days." Much of the plumbing was barely functional. Residents had to search the bathrooms for working faucets. "The roof was like a sieve in some places," says Harold Doley, an investment banker who was the first black to own a seat on the New York Stock Exchange. About a year ago, the United Negro College Fund contacted the Doleys with a proposal for a fundraiser: a designer show house funded by corporate sponsors and executed by local interior designers. The Doleys moved out of their home and helped with the project. They are thrilled with the results but exhausted by the process of updating an old house. The new interior design is mod ern. Many of the furnishings such as ceiling-scraping African carvings and antique bedroom sets are on loan from designers who contributed to the show house But hand-painted wall scenes and custom floor-tile designs will be permanent. Each area of the house is dedicated to remarkable African-Amer ican women whom history has largely forgotten: Marie "Madam Coincoin" Therese, a business woman and former Louisiana slave whose Melrose Plantation denned antebellum architecture: and Brid get "Biddy" Mason, a Texas slave who sued for her freedom and won, moving to California to become a real estate investor who would own much of what is now downtown Los Angeles. In four weeks, some 4,000 visitors have toured Villa Lewaro. They are designers, history lovers and many nearby residents curious about the dramatic house they have passed for years, hardly knowing of its original owner. Most visitors, though, are stu dents. "The kids are fascinated with her," says Michele Lynn, director of the renovation project. "She is very much a role model." LDYDLA COLLEGE 1 MARYLAND Graduate Programs in Engineering Science COMPUTER SCIENCE ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING COMPUTER ENGINEERING MBA elective option available Leading edge technology for today's professionals. Convenient class scheduling and locations, including our new Graduate Center in Timonium. Reservations: 410-617-5020, or 800-221-9107, National Digest In Washington Clinton commutes execution of turkcv to life in a petting zoo President Clinton spared a Thanksgiving turkey from a roast ing and sent him to a petting zoo in Frying Pan Park in Fairfax, Va., "to live out the remainder of his years surrounded by friends, not peas and sweet potatoes. Before an audience of children from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington, the president kicked off the holiday season yesterday with the traditional turkey pardon, where the guest of honor a 45-pounder bred in Swanville, Minn. freely strutted the Rose Garden with an official red "appointment" credential dangling from his neck. First lady Hillary Rodham Clinton quipped: "This turkey will go on living and being a symbol of the important power of the president of the United States." Nazi-stolen assets subject of Washington conference A conference Monday on Holocaust-era assets will address the problems of tracking and identifying art worth billions of dollars stolen from Holocaust victims and how to deal with art bought in good faith. Fifty-seven delegations from 44 nations and 13 nongovernment organizations will take part in the four-day conference, which will be held at the State Department and the Holocaust Museum. The Nazis, beginning in 1933 in Germany, looted an estimated $9 billion to $14 billion in art and other assets from Jews in 20 countries or regions they occupied. The current value of the assets is estimated at $90 billion to $140 billion. In the Nation CBS to give police a tape of Kevorkian at man's death DETROIT CBS News agreed yesterday to hand over to police a videotape of Dr. Jack Kevorkian administering a lethal injection to a terminally ill man, evidence that will help prosecutors decide whether to charge the assisted-suicide crusader. Michigan's Oakland County Prosecutor David Gorcyca said Monday he would consider charging Kevorkian only after viewing an unedited videotape of the death of 52-year old Thomas Youk, who suffered from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. Kevorkian, seeking a legal showdown on euthanasia, dared prosecutors to arrest him immediately after the CBS program "60 Minutes" showed an edited tape Sunday. Sleepwalker awakes in pond surrounded by alligators PALM HARBOR, Fla. A 77-year-old sleepwalker awoke to find himself up to his armpits in alligators. James Currens wandered behind his home early Monday and stumbled into a pond. He woke up in several feet of water, his legs Information Sessions Timonium Campus 2034 Greenspring Dr. Monday December 7 5-7 p.m. Columbia Campus 7135 Minstrel Way Tuesday December 8 5-7 p.m. ext. 5020 UCMJIA C'OUH.K l MAKVIAM) stuck in the mud. He said several alligators, some longer than 3 feet, came around. Currens said he poked at them with his cane to try to keep them away. A neighbor heard him yelling and called police. The retired maintenance supervisor suffered only minor cuts on his legs and arms from the fall. White House pledges funds to fight drugs in sports NEW YORK The White House pledged unprecedented federal help yesterday to fight drugs in sports, including $1 million in research and pressure to award medals to athletes cheated by others using drugs. In a 10-page memo to the Inter national Olympic Committee, White House drug czar Barry McCaffrey called for establishment of an independent doping agency and universal adoption of uniform drug policies, including year-round tests to "ensure all Olympians are drug free." The proposal was submitted as part of planning for a worldwide drug summit called by the IOC for Feb. 2-4. McCaffrey will head the U.S. delegation to that meeting. FBI veteran jailed in theft of $400,000 from agency, mob ' MIAMI A 20-year FBI veteran who oversaw organized crime investigations was sentenced to five years in prison for stealing $400,000 from criminals and the bureau to cover gambling debts. Jerome Sullivan, 44, admitted skimming the money from investigations involving New York mob families and Colombia's Cali cocaine cartel. In addition to the prison sentence, Sullivan was ordered Monday to repay $191,250 stolen from the FBI. Among other things, he admitted taking $196,000 from a Cali cartel money-laundering probe, keeping $100,000 from an informant in a money-laundering investigation and stealing $100,000 in seized mob cash from an FBI office safe. From wire reports Corrections Poly cross country runner Alex Scally is a junior. A capsule in yesterday's sports section indicated he is a senior. n An article in yesterday's Maryland section gave the wrong age for Richard C. Mike Lewin, whom Gov. Parris Glendening has named secretary of business and economic development. Lewin is 56. n A photo of the Hammond-Wil-liamsport girls soccer game that appeared in the sports section in some editions Sunday showed Hammond's Melissa Workman and Williamsport's Kaci Resav. Workman was incorrectly identified in the caption. An article in Sunday's Maryland section misidentified a participant in the Baltimore Classic Table Tennis Tournament. He is Mike Branch, not Mike French. The Sun regrets the errors. ANNIVERSARY SALE SAVINGS UP TO 50 OFF SALE STARTS NOV. 27 ONE WEEK ONLY I'lilOR SAI.1 N IV LID!!) S H O P, inc. Custom Fit Fine Quality 1416 Reisterstown Road Baltimore. MD (410)484-1022 Open Mon sat. 10-6

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