“One of the schools closed during the mass school closings of 2013 has found new life as a home for older people — and it’s retained some of the flavor of its school days, including the chalkboards.
“The West Pullman Elementary School — a historic landmark whose three buildings were built in 1894, 1900 and 1923 — was among the 48 Chicago public schools closed by then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel in 2013. Developers Celadon Holdings and Urbanworks renovated the buildings inside and out, turning them into an affordable apartment complex with 60 units for older people.
“The complex at 11941 S. Parnell Ave. was recently awarded the 2021 Landmarks Illinois Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Award for Adaptive Reuse, with the organization honoring the developers for responding to neighbors’ ‘desire to see these places restored and returned to usable space.’
“‘Instead of children running back [and forth] and playing, now we have seniors there,’ said Tiffany Moore, the director of operations for 5T Management, which manages the building.
“The buildings’ classrooms and teacher’s rooms were converted into apartments and lounges for residents. The developers thought it was important to remind older residents of their youth and the schools they attended, so they kept many of the building’s original finishes and features, Moore said.
“The exteriors also remained largely unchanged, with developers mostly restoring, not replacing, the original brick, stone and wood that makes up the West Pullman school.
“‘We have to make sure that we’re respectful of the space, and so we still have a lot of original pieces, like we still have the chalkboards inside there,’ Moore said. ‘You can use the chalkboards as the headboards to your bed. Some of the cabinetry that was built into the building, we now have a storage for residents inside of their unit.’
“Moore thinks using existing empty buildings for housing is a sustainable solution to the growing need for affordable housing.”
Elementary School Shuttered During 2013 Mass Closings Transformed Into Senior Housing — But The Chalkboards Remain; The former West Pullman Elementary School now provides affordable housing to older Chicagoans. It recently won an award for adapting its space while preserving its original features, Maia McDonald, Block Club Chicago, 3/28/22