THREATENED: Chicago Vocational School (CVS), a 2024 Chicago 7 Most Endangered

Chicago Vocational School (CVS), a 2024 Chicago 7 Most Endangered, 1941, John Christensen, 2100 E. 87th Street. Photo Credit: Lee Bey
Chicago Vocational School (CVS), a 2024 Chicago 7 Most Endangered, 1941, John Christensen, 2100 E. 87th Street. Photo Credit: Eric Allix Rogers
Chicago Vocational School (CVS), a 2024 Chicago 7 Most Endangered, 1941, John Christensen, 2100 E. 87th Street. Photo Credit: Max Chavez / Preservation Chicago
Chicago Vocational School (CVS), a 2024 Chicago 7 Most Endangered, 1941, John Christensen, 2100 E. 87th Street. Photo Credit: Max Chavez / Preservation Chicago
Chicago Vocational School (CVS) Anthony Avenue Wing, a 2024 Chicago 7 Most Endangered, 1941, John Christensen, 2100 E. 87th Street. Photo Credit: Max Chavez / Preservation Chicago
Chicago Vocational School (CVS) Anthony Avenue Wing, a 2024 Chicago 7 Most Endangered, 1941, John Christensen, 2100 E. 87th Street. Photo Credit: Max Chavez / Preservation Chicago
Art Deco lobby of Chicago Vocational School (CVS), a 2024 Chicago 7 Most Endangered, 1941, John Christensen, 2100 E. 87th Street. Photo Credit: Chicago Architectural Photographing Company, Chicago Photographic Collections, University of Illinois at Chicago
Airplane Hanger at Chicago Vocational School (CVS), a 2024 Chicago 7 Most Endangered, 1941, John Christensen, 2100 E. 87th Street. Photo Credit: Max Chavez / Preservation Chicago
Airplane Hanger at Chicago Vocational School (CVS), a 2024 Chicago 7 Most Endangered, 1941, John Christensen, 2100 E. 87th Street. Photo Credit: 1950 Chicago Vocational High School Year Book

Chicago Vocational School (aka Chicago Vocational Career Academy)

Address: 2100 E. 87th Street
Architect: John C. Christensen
Date: 1938-1941
Style: Art Deco/Art Moderne
Neighborhood: Avalon Park

Overview
Chicago Vocational School (today, Chicago Vocational Career Academy but most commonly known as CVS) is among the most notable examples of Art Deco/Art Moderne architecture in the city of Chicago. It is also the largest such structure in Chicago that is not a downtown skyscraper. Constructed between 1938 and 1941, Chicago Vocational High School was intended as a southern counterpart to Albert G. Lane Technical College Preparatory High School (1908, 1934), more commonly known today as Lane Tech. A combination of generational demographic shifts, changes in urban educational philosophy, and federal financial support all led to the eventual creation of Chicago Vocational High School.

Beyond its sheer size–the school’s four principal structures sit on a 22-acre triangular parcel–the school is significant as a former site of wartime preparedness during WWII, an early and surviving Public Works Administration/Works Progress Administration-funded project in Chicago, and an Avalon Park institution that was once affectionately known as “The Pride of the South Side.”

CVS is an active Chicago Public School, with a renewed emphasis on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education and college preparedness. Enrollment, however, has dwindled. As of 2023, the school had only approximately 800 students. This in a facility originally designed to accommodate anywhere from 4,000 to 6,000 full-time enrollees.

In 2022, CVS alumni operating under the banner of “Chicago Vocational H.S. Restoration Project” mounted a successful campaign to list the property on the National Register of Historic Places. That same group has made further appeals to make Chicago Vocational School a Chicago Landmark in the hopes that such a formal distinction could assist efforts to bolster both the school’s evolving curriculum and the physical campus itself.

Read the full story at Preservation Chicago’s website

Chicago Vocational School (CVS), a Preservation Chicago 2024 Chicago 7 Most Endangered Chapter

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