“The Obsidian Collection received zoning approval to convert the historical Palmer mansion at 3654 S. King Drive into a digital archive center and members-only coworking hub for Black journalists and creators.
“Obsidian Collection founder Angela Ford is behind the $3.8 million plan for the famed Lu and Jorja Palmer mansion, which landed on Preservation Chicago’s ‘Most Endangered Buildings’ list four years ago after falling into disrepair.
“Completed in 1888 for Justice D. Harry Hammer, the mansion was bought by local journalist Lu Palmer and his wife, Jorja, in 1976. Palmer remained in the house until his death in 2004.
“Ford wants to transform the mansion into a three-story facility where members can enjoy small bites and non-alcoholic beverages. Two apartments on the top floor would serve visiting scholars, and the space would host events like film screenings and panel discussions, Ford said at a community meeting earlier this year. (Nesbitt Golden, Block Club Chicago, 4/19/23)
Preservation Chicago strongly supports Angela Ford and The Obsidian Collection’s effort to adaptively reuse the Palmer Mansion for a nonprofit digital archive for photographs, video and documents to focus on making Black history more available and accessible. This is an incredibly exciting development. Despite a series of exasperating delays and obstructions, we continue to do everything we can to support this effort.
Preservation Chicago had been concerned about the deteriorating condition of the Justice D. Harry Hammer Mansion/Lutrelle ‘Lu’ & Jorja Palmer Mansion for years. To help raise awareness and to pressure stakeholders, it became a Chicago 7 Most Endangered in 2019. We have played an active role working with community organizations, local leaders, and decision-makers to help bring about a preservation-sensitive outcome for this building.
- Bronzeville’s Palmer Mansion Will Become Obsidian Collection Archive, Coworking For Black Creators; City Council also approved $6 million for the construction of the much-anticipated Lillian Marcie Center for the Performing Arts, Jamie Nesbitt Golden, Block Club Chicago, 4/19/23
- Bronzeville’s Obsidian Collection Nears Finish Line As It Goes For City Council Approval; The $3.8 million project would be home to a digital archive center and co-working hub inside the historical Lu and Jorja Palmer mansion on King Drive, Jamie Nesbitt Golden, Block Club Chicago, 2/1/23
- Lu Palmer mansion up for rezoning as Obsidian Collection moves ahead with plans for Black media archive and coworking space, Zoe Pharo, Hyde Park Herald, 2/3/23
- Owner Of Historic Lu Palmer Mansion Says Ald. King Is Stalling Planned Black Media Archive, Community Center At Site; Angela Ford accused King of blocking her proposal to open a museum in the 133-year-old home. King said Ford is misrepresenting the scope of the project, calling it ‘a Soho House next to your home.’ Jamie Nesbitt Golden, Block Club Chicago, 5/25/22
- Justice D. Harry Hammer Mansion/Lutrelle ‘Lu’ & Jorja Palmer Mansion, a Preservation Chicago 2019 Chicago 7 Most Endangered
- The Obsidian Collection Website