Old Building, New Life
Published: Monday, September 10, 2012
Updated: Monday, September 10, 2012 19:09
The Chicago Housing Authority could demolish the last standing Jane Addams’ Home. The public housing unit was built in 1938 as the first federal government housing project in Chicago under the Public Works Administration Act. The project was developed during the Depression era to spark the economy and restore hope to families.
The three story brown brick building now stands neglected on the 1300 block of West Taylor St. in Chicago’s Little Italy.
The building has been vacant since 2002. But with supporters and benefactors (including President Obama and Roosevelt University), it will be converted to the National Public Housing Museum by 2013. It would be similar to New York City’s Lower East Side Tenement Museum.
Right now there is a committee but no museum; the committee is organizing events for those who want to contribute to the cause. Most events are free, but donations are suggested.
A lecture by Peter Edelman, author of “So Rich, So Poor: Why It’s So Hard to End Poverty in America,” will take place next month at the Northwestern University School of Law. It will cover the palpable topic of the growing wealth gap in America between the mega rich and downtrodden poor. The lecture will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 10 from 6:30-8p.m at the Thorne Auditorium 375 E. Chicago Ave. These events are imperative to ensure the future of the National Public Housing Museum, as they raise support and awareness of the organization’s commendable vision.
Jordan Glover, executive assistant at the museum, is eager about the potential of the museum.
“Illuminate the resilience of poor and working class families”, she said in a phone interview.
The museum also aims to have exhibits recreating the living spaces of working class African- American, Jewish and Italian families as an attempt to understand forgotten lifestyles. This vision will not be realized if an estimated $14 million is not raised to purchase the building from the Chicago Housing Authority. Without funding, the historic building will be demolished.
Glover said public housing serves as a great stepping-stone to a well-adjusted life.
“Everyone deserves a home,” she said.
Glover did emphasize that the museum will strive to portray public housing in a well-balanced, unbiased environment.
Want to support the public housing museum project? Find out more about the mission @RUTORCH.