Nearly 100 years after it was built by the nation’s first self-made female millionaire, Madam CJ Walker, Villa Lewaro has been sold to another self-made Black mogul, Richelieu Dennis.
Villa Lewaro was built in 1918 for Madam CJ Walker, a daughter of slaves whom made her fortune in hair and beauty products catering primarily for Black women. This “dream of dreams” home was designed by Vertner Tandy, the first Black architect registered in New York. On December 17, 2018, Richelieu Dennis, founder and CEO of Sundial Brands, outlined his plans for the estate to the Irvington Village Board of Trustees. He wants to make sure that Madam CJ Walker’s legacy continues not only through the hair care products but also through her home that was intended to be a place to inspire others.
“When people think of women’s empowerment and economic inclusion, they should think of Irvington. The idea is we would create a think tank where we would have some of the best minds in the country thinking about entrepreneurs and the challenge of entrepreneurship for women and women of color”, said Dennis.
In addition to the think tank, Dennis launched the New Voices Fund, a $100 million fund that will invest in businesses owned or managed by women of color.
I’m so excited to see what improvements he makes to the estate and the black girl magic that comes from his retreats. It’s not just about Black history - it’s American history. Period!