My name is Nyanyika Banda. I am a chef, writer and entrepreneur. Today I am inviting you to join me in investing in an exciting and important business venture. The foundation of this project began 70 years ago, when my great grandmother, Marie Elliott, purchased a home and surrounding property on the Upper Cape in Massachusetts, and ran it as a lodging home and bed and breakfast called Wagon Wheel. At the time, my family were the only Blacks to own land in the area. To this day, they still are.
For the past 20 years I have worked in the restaurant and hospitality industry. My first job was at a small family owned restaurant when I was 15 years old, where I prepped vegetables and cleaned tables. I fell into curiosity with recipes and then I fell in love with cooking.
For the last two decades I have traveled the world working as a chef and entrepreneur. As an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin I started an underground pop up restaurant, serving in bars, breweries and distilleries and developing a huge following. Upon graduating I was opening the brick and mortar version of that pop up, which in 2018 won an EATER Award for BEST ROADTRIP RESTAURANT. feel strongly connected to my great grandmother in the sense of wanting to create spaces where people feel welcomed and that they can be their true selves, while also receiving quality food and service. Martha's Daughter, will be another destination spot.
By reviving the idea of a Bed and Breakfast, similar to what my great grandmother ran half a century ago, we can provide travelers with not only a boutique hotel experience but also a chance to stay on a historical landmark, a piece of property that was purchased by an ambitious, middle aged Black Woman 70 years ago and is still in the hands of her descendants.
Unfortunately, we are living in a world similar to the one my Gram lived in. 70 years ago, it was not safe everywhere to be Black in America. And we are currently living in a climate where it is again (or still) not safe everywhere to be Black in America. My Gram worked hard her entire life to make sure the racist whites would not take that land away from her. The very least I can do is to fight for it.
The purpose of this GoFundMe is to raise money to purchase a portion of this original property and the existing home to renovate into Martha’s Daughter on the Cape. Before she passed, Mrs. Elliott divided her property and divided it among her children. We fortunately have living relatives residing in most of the homes. This past spring my great aunt, and the eldest of Marie’s children passed away. This home is currently for sale and the hope is to purchase this property to keep it in the family and to continue this wonderful family legacy.
Photo of the original Wagon Wheel on the Elliott Estastes
The Negro Motorist Greenbook was a guidebook for Black American roadtrippers that wa s published during the Jim Crow Era. It was created and published by a Black NYC mailman named Victor Hugo Green from 1936 - 1966. During Jim Crow Black travelers were constantly at risk of being refused service at gas stations, restaurants and hotels. And even worse threats and physical violence. Green founded the guidebook by compiling resources “to give the Negro traveler information that will keep him from running into difficulties, embarrassments and to make his trip more enjoyable.”
The Wagon Wheel was included in the Greenbook. As the way my cousins tell it to me, it was a place for notable Black politicians, artists,writers and musicians passed through because there were no other options on that part of the Cape.
My cousin, who is the same age as my mother, Martha, told me this story. On a summer day in the late 1960’s she sat on the front porch of the big Victorian house with my great grandmother, or “Gram” as we all refer to her. A view of the Cape Cod Canal sits across the vast green yard that is spotted with Locust trees. While they were enjoying their time together, a car pulled up the horseshoe driveway. A white man got out. He looked at Gram and my cousin and aggressively said to them, “Someday, we’re gonna take this back from you.”
My Gram sat up in her chair, and leaned forward, she took her glasses off and made her eyes real big, “NOT while my eyes are still open!” She informed the white man. He got in his car and drove away.
In 1950, my Gram, a Black female mother and entrepreneur from Cambridge, Massachusetts, purchased the house and the surrounding almost six acres. She became the first and only Black person to own land in the area. She turned the home into The Wagon Wheel Bed and Breakfast and named the property The Elliott Estates.
Photo of me, my younger sister and Gram in the big house.
Martha’s Daughter will be a full service, upscale, Bed & Breakfast. There is a combination of suites and individual rooms throughout the house to accommodate families, couples and singles. The entire home will be available for rental for wedding parties and special events. Multiple rooms have their own private entrance and bathrooms.
Guests will also be able to enjoy the backyard, where there is a koi pond, vegetable garden, and meditation trails. There are two common areas with fireplaces.
Included in the stay will be a continental breakfast with fresh juices and coffee and an a la carte menu for purchase. All menus will be designed by Executive Chef Banda and will feature local ingredients, including vegetables and herbs from the B&B garden.
There will be an option for guests to purchase picnic basket lunches to take to the beach or sack lunches to take on the bike trails.
A Martha’s Daughter Food Truck will be available for rental for weddings and specials events. It will also function as a local summer food attraction.
Future location of Martha's Daughter Bed & Breakfast
- laura gill
- Jeffrey Schwartz
- Michelle Bennett
- Maxine Davis
Organizer and beneficiary
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