WIN: After Years of Delays, Obsidian Collection Finally Receives Zoning Approval (Chicago 7 2019)

“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.

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