Skip to main content

Liberian Billionaire Richelieu Dennis of SheaMoisture, Essence shares vision for Irvington mansion



The Villa Lewaro estate will be used as a "learning institute, or think tank, to foster entrepreneurship for present and future generations," according to New Voices Foundation's Richelieu Dennis.
Just in time for the estate’s 100th anniversary, New Voices Foundation, which was founded by ESSENCE Ventures Chair Richelieu Dennis, has acquired the one-time home of Madam C.J. Walker, known as the first Black woman to become a self-made millionaire in the U.S. The Villa Lewaro estate will be used as a “learning institute, or think tank, to foster entrepreneurship for present and future generations,” according to Dennis.
The 28,000-square-foot property is located in Irvington, New York, and boasts 34 rooms. Walker lived in the estate, which in 1976 became a National Historic Landmark, from 1918 to 1919. Named after her daughter, A’Lelia Walker Robinson, the home was the first to be owned by a person of color in Irvington, and welcomed historic guests such as W. E. B. Du Bois, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, and James Weldon Johnson.
For the last 25 years, the Villa Lewaro estate has been owned by Ambassador Harold Doley, Jr., and his wife Helena. Dennis purchased the estate with the help of his family, the Dennis family.
Still, with this acquisition, Dennis hopes to use the property to help serve Black women deeply. Along with his New Voices Fund, which has pledged to give $100 million to women of color entrepreneurs, he hopes to use the estate as a think tank for the next generation of Black women entrepreneurs.
“To be able to steward something so rich in our culture, history, legacy, and achievement through the New Voices Foundation and guide it into its next phase of impact and inspiration is an incredible honor that my family and I welcome with tremendous responsibility and humility,” Dennis said in a statement.
The Shea Moisture founder said that he hopes the estate’s “significance is much greater than just a house or property or historic landmark. It is a place where – against all odds – dreams were formed, visions were realized and entrepreneurs were born, and we look forward to returning its use to support that mission.”
“This includes utilizing Villa Lewaro as both a physical and virtual destination where women of color entrepreneurs will come for curriculum-based learning and other resources aimed at helping them build, grow and expand their businesses,” he continued. “When people think of entrepreneurship services for women of color, we want them to think of the New Voices Foundation and Villa Lewaro.”
It’s not the first time that the Dennis and Walker families have been intertwined.
The Dennis family acquired and relaunched the Madam C.J. Walker brand back in 2013, which is when conversations to buy the estate initially began.
Walker’s great-great-granddaughter A’Lelia Bundles said that she was excited to once again partner with the Dennis family to further her foremother’s vision.
“No one at the time believed that a Black woman could afford such a place. So, I can think of no better way to celebrate Villa Lewaro’s 100th anniversary than the vision of the New Voices Foundation and the Dennis family for this historic treasure as a place to inspire today’s entrepreneurs, tomorrow’s leaders, and our entire community,” Bundles said in a statement. “Richelieu’s own success story – from a humble family recipe to an international enterprise with an economic empowerment mission – very much mirrors Madam Walker’s journey of empowering and uplifting women.”
“Just as Madam Walker aided in the preservation of abolitionist Frederick Douglass’s Washington, D.C. home, the Dennis family continues this tradition of preserving historic sites that raise awareness about the contributions people of color have made to the American narrative,” she concluded.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Open Letter to President George Weah

C Liberia Clearly CEO calls on George Weah to take Arts and Culture seriously.
The Honorable George M. Weah, President of the Republic of Liberia, I write to endorse your "Pro Poor" agenda. I fully

support your call "to ensured Liberians are not spectators in the

Liberian Economy."    In

order to carry out this "Pro Poor" agenda successfully,

and in order to fully empower the young generation, the Liberian Entertainment Industry must be included. 

Arts and Culture has played a critical role in keeping our young citizens gainfully employed.  From the music industry to film industry to the fashion industry, this generation has benefitted from the employment opportunities arts and culture provides. 
To extend the benefits of arts, culture and tourism, the Liberian government must support and rely on arts and culture as a key input for rebuilding our nation. There are several actions this administration should take to strengthen the role that arts and culture p…

Liberian Superstar Bucky Raw Is Currently Being Deported From The USA To Liberia

Liberian superstar, Bucky Raw who has been in jail since October 2017, for domestic violence charges, is currently being deported to his homeland, Liberia, for violating his parole, according to inside source.  The artist released a heartwarming letter to his fans few days ago, assuring them that he will be back very soon. Unfortunately, his return won't be in the manner expected.  To be continued.......

Former Liberian Artist Yung Muse Renounces Liberian Citizenship - Waving Nigerian Flag High On Social Media

It is unconfirmed if the SNG artist, Yung Muse has legally dropped his Liberian nationality, but one thing for sure, it is dropped off his social media page.  Yung Muse who is known for trying to sing and act like a Nigerian, is no longer waving his Liberian flag. On the artist Instagram page, he is waving the Nigerian flag high and there is no trace of his Liberian roots on his page.  It is very clear that he doesn't want to be identify as a Liberian. So be it. check out his Instagram page below.