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The Inner Rooms of Maya Angelou ( house )

The Inner Rooms of Maya Angelou

A blue curve walkway around the back of the gay yellow house Maya Angelou in Bartram Road in Winston-Salem, NC No, just beyond the door is a blue bird cage 6 feet high.


The stairs lead up to Ms. Angelou's suite on the third floor. Dustin Aksland for The Wall Street Journal
Eight bird cages are placed close to the guest house. The work is appropriate, an indication of the poet and the first and most famous work of the author, "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings." This book, which has 4.6 million pocket copies to date, has opened the door to this house one of three owned by Ms. Angelou, 84 years.

A second home, about 3 miles away, an office for Ms. Angelou personnel and a guest house for visitors. The third is a brownstone in the heart of New York Mount Morris Park in Harlem, where she travels several times a year.

It lives mainly in the house yellow Winston-Salem, she calls him by name, street, Bartram Road. The cage is next to a Ms. Angelou space called "dance floor". What was once a pool but lung disease prevented him from swimming. So it completed and placed in areas to be covered "so we can sit and watch people dance," she said.
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. | A second home 3 miles away from Ms. Angelou's other North Carolina home serves as a guest house and an office for a staff of 10 people. Houses nearby are valued in the low to mid-$200,000s. Dustin Aksland for The Wall Street Journal
Ms. Angelou, who grew up in Stamps, Ark., During the Great Depression, was a literary star for more than a decade when he decided to return to the south. After years of traveling the world, first as a dancer and singer, then a journalist and later a civil rights activist, who has won wide recognition of the publication 1969 "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings "the first installment of a six-part autobiography.

She spent the next decade, mainly in California, where she lived with her second husband wrote three of his autobiography deliveries, direct songs like "Still I Rise" and appears in the television miniseries as "Roots of Alex Haley. "

In 1981, after she and her husband divorced, Ms. Angelou accepted a life professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University in North Carolina. He moved to Winston-Salem and bought a colonial brick house with 10 rooms in Valley Road, larger than originally intended home.

Inside Maya Angelou's Home

Dustin Aksland for The Wall Street Journal
"I thought I would buy a nice little house," she said. "I wrapped around me poetically, and live a poetic existence. But then I thought, 'Wait a minute. If I moved to a house with 10 rooms [California] and three or four bedroom home then what I thought? I was reduced? I could not do that. "

In Valley Road, welcomed students and friends, has written several books of poetry and children invited to play in his yard neighborhood basketball.

In 1993, Ms. Angelou reciting her poem "On the Pulse of Morning" at a presidential inauguration of Bill Clinton. The following week, sales of "I know why the caged bird sings" increased 500%, according to Random House, the publisher. Another 400,000 copies of his books have been reprinted so well, Ms. Angelou put in a good position to buy more real estate. The following year, he bought the house in Bartram road that now calls home. The house Valley Road has become an office, where a staff of 10 people coordinate the schedule, pick up the mail, responds to media requests and concerned households.
The chandelier above dinning room table in the Harlem brownstone. Dustin Aksland for The Wall Street Journal
A bright-red china cabinet in the dinning room of the Harlem brownstone. Ms. Angelou entertains here during the Christmas holidays, when the house is frequently filled with people, a friend says. Dustin Aksland for The Wall Street Journal
Ms. Angelou has made substantial renovations to both properties. In Valley Road, rooms added, extended kitchen and put in a suite with a housewife. In Bartram, the size of the library down and transformed into a conservatory dining room doubled. Added two bedrooms downstairs and four upstairs. A house was built on the backs of their frequent guests. And a sculpture garden in the garden is dotted with 25 digits, including Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.

Inside Ms. Angelou shows works of African-American artists renowned as Romare Bearden, John Biggers and Charles White. Although primarily includes African-American art, said she enjoys the works of all kinds. One of her favorite pieces is a portrait of her by David Sugar artist. "I like the fact that it looks like my grandmother who raised me," she said. "I grew up like her."

The dining area of the kitchen is the room that feels lived with the disorder of light around the kitchen table. Framed photos displayed behind a window seat, and books are stacked on a piano bench nearby. On the rare occasions when Ms. Angelou decided to write at home, usually found at the kitchen table. "I like to be comfortable," she said. Even inside, often wears dark glasses to protect their eyes from the light.
A portrait by artist David Sugar. Dustin Aksland for The Wall Street Journal
Normally she does her writing on an additional room reserved for any city that happens to be. The images are removed from the walls before arrival. They are a distraction, she said.

He found the house in Harlem by his friends Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson, the team of songwriters husband and wife. "They called me and said," We have found your home, "she said." I said, 'Okay, put $ 10,000 on it "They said," No, you have to see. ". And I said, "No, I trust you If you think this is my house, I know this is my house". ".

Before she bought in 2004, sandstone was vandalized and burned rained. "I redid everything," she said. "I put a lot of money in it." A still many oak original door moldings and some railings. In general, has about 3,500 square feet in 14 rooms. The basement, which she called "West Wing of wine," has a small cellar.

In each house, Ms. Angelou like color. Harlem townhouse was designed to look like a plate of watermelon fruit was pink, purple and red plum tomatoes, she said. Sofa lime green and three armchairs surround pink, blue and yellow square stone table, set with a plate glass fruit.
The library's size was doubled in Ms. Angelou's home on Bartram Road in Winston-Salem, N.C. Dustin Aksland for The Wall Street Journal
A greenhouse near the driveway of Ms. Angelou's primary residence. Dustin Aksland for The Wall Street Journal
Entertaining is still a big part of Ms. Angelou's life. During the Christmas holidays, the Harlem house is frequently filled with people, says Lynn Cothren, a longtime friend, who lives about 10 blocks away in an apartment building owned by Ms. Angelou. She bought the three-apartment building as an investment around the same time as her Harlem house.
In Bartram Road, guests visit twice a week. Ms. Angelou likes to play games such as Pictionary or charades. Among its visitors are Oprah Winfrey and actress Cicely Tyson. It also calls Wake Forest students for a couple of times each semester.

"One hundred and fifty people came on July 4, and it's a small crowd," says Hubert Stanback, another old friend who attends races Ms. Angelou and conduct. They met at Mount Zion Baptist Church when Ms. Angelou moved to Winston-Salem.

The real show is Thanksgiving, with a guest list of 200 people. "It's a very big deal," said Ms. Angelou. During Thanksgiving, customers support both houses of the valley road and Bartram.

Most of the time, however, Ms. Angelou spends her days giving interviews or written. A book about her mother, Vivian Baxter, who died in 1991, was released in the spring, says publicist Angelou. At that time, she works on country songs letters for artists such as Ronnie Dunn and Martina McBride. The theme of your songs? "Love. Love and loss and all that. Just like everyone else has been written about Sappho Nikki Giovanni," she said.
Birdcages are a reminder of the poet's work. Dustin Aksland for The Wall Street Journal
In the afternoon, start planning a dinner with his head.

"We talked about food and see who's coming to dinner," says Angelou, noting that she has a favorite dish and like to mix the menu. She is well versed in Southern cooking from her mother and grandmother but occasionally comes across a new recipe. Recently, he found a cornbread salad. "I had never heard of him. But it was so good, just incredible. It was so well received, made another, "she said.

These days, Ms. Angelou said he rarely goes road office of the valley once a month at most. Here the main shows signs of wear. The blinds in the conference room are broken, the edge of the conference table is reinforced with tape. More than 30 honorary doctorates, several awards and plaques, and three Grammys for the floor. The boxes fan letters are stacked in the conference room. A dusty limousine parked in the garage. (She has five other vehicles, including a cream 1980 Rolls-Royce and a Mustang convertible 1986).

Closer to Christmas, Ms. Angelou will board a private bus for the trip 10½ hours in Manhattan, where he will stay during the holidays.

She did not want to leave North Carolina. "I put my roots here. My friends are here. My art is here, "she said. "Naturally, this is your home."

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