WIN: West Pullman Elementary School Landmarked Prior to Adaptive Reuse

West Pullman Elementary School circa 1900, 11917-51 S. Parnell Avenue, Historic Photo Credit: City of Chicago

The West Pullman Elementary School served as a Chicago Public School for over 120 years before being closed in 2013, along with 48 other CPS buildings. Located at 11917-11951 S. Parnell Ave in West Pullman, the block-long building will be adaptively reused as affordable senior and veterans housing. West Pullman Elementary was designated as a Chicago Landmark on April 18, 2018.

“Scott Henry, who heads up Celadon with Thad Garver, grew up near the West Pullman neighborhood in Roseland. His mother was a teacher at the elementary school and he was baptized in a church down the street. So, the chance to work on this redevelopment is meaningful to him.” (Freund, Curbed Chicago, 3/14/18)

“It saves a very important building in the community. The city was concerned with what was going to happen to the building. We’re excited to turn the space into something productive and thriving. There’s a big need for senior housing and this project could fill an unmet need,” said developer Scott Henry from Celadon Holdings. (Freund, Curbed Chicago, 3/14/18)

West Pullman Elementary School was designed by highly regarded Chicago architect W. August Fielder in 1894. Fielder served as the first in-house architect for Chicago’s Board of Education. Fielder designed 58 new schools and dozens of additions during his appointment which lasted three years from 1893 to 1896.

The original school building was designed by Fiedler in 1894 and built in the Romanesque Revival style. In 1900, a Classical Revival style addition was designed by architect William B. Mundie and in 1923 another Classical Revival style addition was designed by architect John C. Christensen. The Chicago Landmark Designation will protect the exteriors of the original building and additions significant alteration or demolition. (Landmarks Division, 4/18/18)

Preservation Chicago applauds developer Scott Henry and Thad Garver from Celadon Holdings, A Safe Haven Foundation and the architect UrbanWorks for a great project. This is an excellent example of how adaptive reuse can reinvigorate historic structures. It also demonstrates how the inherent authenticity of historic structures can result in more interesting, unique, desirable, and ultimately successful finished projects than comparable new construction.

Additional Reading

Affordable senior housing to fill vacant West Pullman Elementary School, Sara Freund, Curbed Chicago, March 14, 2018

Landmark Status Proposed for Former West Pullman Elementary School, City of Chicago, April 18, 2018

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