“An old Marshall Field & Company warehouse building at 4343 S. Cottage Grove Avenue is one step closer to being reborn as a performing arts center and museum. Known as the Lillian Marcie Theatre, the $13.5 million undertaking will transform the vacant vintage structure into an arts complex with a 350-seat main theater, a 100-set black box theater, rehearsal spaces, dressing rooms, and a roof deck.
“On Tuesday, the Chicago Community Development Commission voted to recommend the City Council set aside $3 million in tax increment financing (TIF) money for the South Side project. The commissioners also recommended that the city’s Department of Planning and Development negotiate a redevelopment agreement with the property’s developers.
“The building will also house the African American Museum of Performing Arts. ‘You might think of it as the Black version of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts,’ Harry Lennix told Chris Jones of the Chicago Tribune in December. Lennix named the Lillian Marcie Theatre after his mother, Lillian, and one of his Chicago mentors, Marcella “Marcie” Gillie.
“The site’s existing structure was built by Marshall Field in  and is “orange rated” for significance on the Chicago Historic Resources Survey. It is considered a “sister building” to a similar-looking former warehouse in Lakeview that was renovated into the Briar Street Theatre.” (Koziarz, Urbanize Chicago, 7/13/21)
William Ernest Walker Walker was a well-known architect of the period who started his career as a draftsman for Henry Ives Cobb for five years. He also served as Superintendent of Construction for the City of Chicago’s Board of Education. Walker designed many types of buildings across Chicago, including a few luxury apartment towers along Lake Shore Drive. However, large scale warehouses and fireproof apartment buildings were his specialties.
In addition to the Marshall Field & Company Warehouse Stable at 4343 S. Cottage Grove Avenue, William Ernest Walker designed other stables for Marshall Fields, including:
– 3137 N. Halsted – (Briar Street Theater, converted in 1993) permit issued in 1902
– SE corner of 63rd and St. Lawrence Ave (Demolished), 1912
– 858-860 E. 63rd (SW corner of St. Lawrence Ave; Demolished), 1902
Performing arts complex planned for former Marshall Field warehouse; The Bronzeville project will house two theater spaces and the African American Museum of Performing Arts, Jay Koziarz, Urbanize Chicago, 7/13/21