“Efforts to revive Bronzeville’s historic Forum just received a $1 million boost.
“The Andrew M. Mellon Foundation awarded the grant through its Humanities in Place program this month. The money will support the development of arts and cultural heritage spaces inside The Forum, 318-24 E. 43rd St.
“Bernard Loyd, president of the Urban Juncture Foundation, which is spearheading the Forum’s renovation, has led efforts to bring the Forum back to life since buying the 127-year-old building in 2011. Before its decline, The Forum was one of the most significant assembly spaces on the South Side, hosting politicians, unions and social clubs above first floor storefronts on 43rd Street, he said.
“‘We are delighted to accept the support of the Mellon Foundation, along with that of hundreds of residents and other stakeholders, and are hopeful that Ald. [Pat] Dowell (3rd) and the city of Chicago soon will offer their support as well,’ Loyd said. ‘The Forum is an iconic building that can play a central role in bringing Bronzeville residents together and moving us forward.’
“In its heyday, The Forum was the epicenter of Black life in Chicago, hosting everything from cotillions to “movement” meetings and live performances from world-renowned artists, including Nat King Cole and Muddy Waters.
“Built in 1897, The Forum closed in the 1970s and fell into such disrepair that pieces of furniture had sunk into the floor due to the amount of water damage. It was in danger of being demolished when Loyd bought the building and announced an ambitious, $20 million effort to reestablish it. Loyd used most of his own money pay for site remediation after buying the building.
“In May, City Council approved a rezoning of The Forum, which will enable Loyd and his team to revive it as a performance venue. It was previously approved for residential use, but the change to commercial zoning will allow for a banquet hall, retail and restaurant space.
“The City Council approval also cleared Loyd to use a $250,000 state grant to continue rehabbing the West Annex, which is expected to be completed this year.
“‘The Forum was a civic, cultural, and commercial hub of our community, and we can now focus fully on bringing it back,’ Loyd said last year.” (Nesbitt Golden, Block Club Chicago, 4/1/22)
Bronzeville’s The Forum Gets $1 Million Grant To Build Arts And Culture Hub In Historic Building; The grant from the Andrew M. Mellon Foundation will support The Creative Complex at The Forum, which will have four arts-based spaces inside the 127 year-old building, Jamie Nesbitt Golden, Block Club Chicago, 4/1/22