With intentions to be more proactive in advocating for historic places in Bronzeville, approximately 35 volunteers helped survey 400 properties along and around the 43 rd Street corridor on May 4, 2019.
Preservation Chicago collaborated with Bronzeville residents who formed a group called Preservation Bronzeville after the historic Boston Store Stables building was demolished in November 2018.
Associated Bank sponsored the event, which included a moving keynote address by Chicago Historian Timuel Black. Black recalled a time “when there was no need to go outside of the community because 43 rd Street offered all that you need.” There were jobs, great music venues and movie theaters. He stressed the importance of keeping what is left of the community’s history intact to honor what the area was and the vibrant commercial corridor it can become again. “The closed door is going to open. Be prepared to walk in,” Black said about opportunities in the area.
Volunteers surveyed buildings to determine if they have historic character, what condition the building is in and whether it may be vulnerable to demolition threats.
Data from this survey will be used to target additional research needs, share with the City of Chicago, and advocate for current and future tools that will help keep this history intact. It is a long-term goal to encourage the City to begin a new Chicago Historic Resources Survey. Data collected here can be imported by the City.
Preservation Chicago is organizing outreach in other communities. Roseland community leaders are initiating a similar process to recognize, celebrate and protect its cultural and historic assets. The survey date in Roseland is currently set for Saturday, June 22.
“It was powerful to connect the volunteers with Timuel Black’s historic perspective to take action toward saving Bronzeville’s built environment,” said Mary Lu Seidel, Director of Community Engagement at Preservation Chicago.