Community Day at Overton: Making Space Together

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4927 S Indiana Ave

4927 South Indiana Avenue

Chicago, IL 60615

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Photo: Courtesy of Sandra Steinbrecher

How can art, design, and architecture catalyze the repurposing of closed Chicago Public Schools?

This is the question we're exploring through Creative Grounds , a multi-year initiative led by Borderless Studio . For the past 2 years, Creative Grounds has organized programming at former Anthony Overton Elementary School in the Bronzeville neighborhood of Chicago – from small group dialogues and collaborative workshops to community gatherings.

Closed in 2013, and purchased in 2015 by the Washington Park Development Group, the former school is under redevelopment process to adopt its next life as the Overton Business and Technology Incubator. During this period, we're excited to invite artists, designers, and architects to activate different spaces with projects honoring the past, reflecting present, and imagining the future of Overton school. Throughout the Summer of 2019, Creative Grounds hosted monthly activation days and community events to bring life into the space once again – and invited teams to work collaboratively in design installations inspired in MEMORY, INCLUSION and EQUITY to activate each of these classrooms throgh a call for projects under the theme Process(ing) Transformation.

On September 21, we will gather in a community day with featured artists, neighbors and designers work on display in classrooms as well as the school's longstanding presence as a valuable community asset, continuing its legacy well into the future. This celebration will coincide with the opening of the Chicago Architecture Biennial in which Overton will be a satellite site of this international exhibition, and feature work by international designers from studio BASAR in collaboration with students from Daniel H. Williams Preparatatory High School; Architecture for All in collaboration with BlackSpace Chicago, and choreagrapher/composser Zorka Wollny in collaboration with Lional 'Brother El' Freeman and students from Walter H. Dyett High School for the Arts.

We want you to be part of this story!

Join this celebration that will include Bronzeville's food, artists, performances by pyro poet Tiff Beatty, music by DJ Sadie Woods, and hand-on family activities by ¡Anímate! Studio . We want this celebration to serve as a pathway of how other closed Chicago Public Schools could serve as community beacons of life, art, culture and creativity – even in their "in between" state.

Would you like to support this community event or volunteer with us?

Send us a message: https://www.creativegrounds.org/contact. We are looking for volunteers that can support the participant teams in different activities including creative/design work, fabrication, team organization and community programming.

About Creative Grounds

CREATIVE GROUNDS is an collective initiative led by BORDERLESS STUDIO to explore the community and urban role of school grounds after the largest Public Schools Closure in Chicago’s history. In collaboration with community organizations, artists, educators, architects, urban designers, planners, administrators, journalists, activists and social innovators, this research and creative platform assembles ideas and documents processes of schools’ repurposing focused on leveraging the legacy of their past, identifying present opportunities, and exploring future potential of these community assets.


About Anthony Overton Business & Technology Incubator (former Elementary School)

Anthony Overton Elementary School closed in 2013, and was purchased by the Washington Park Development Group in 2015. Designed and built by prominent local architects, Perkins & Will in 1963, Overton represents a modern and progressive approach to education reform and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2016.

Overton is in the process of being transformed into a business and technology incubation center. It will offer entrepreneurs facilities training, amenities, and connections to other motivated individuals. The architecturally significant mid-century modern building is an anchor in the community and readily adapted to support new uses like offices, labs, a catering kitchen, a gymnasium, event room and performance stage.


About Anthony Overton

Anthony Overton (March 21, 1865 – July 2, 1946), a banker and pioneer manufacturer, was the first African American to lead a major business conglomerate. Overton established Hygienic in 1898 and produced baking powder, extracts, and toilet preparations. After moving the firm from Kansas to Chicago, he began to manufacture a full line of cosmetics and perfumes under the High-Brown Products label. He parlayed his early success with Hygienic into a highly diverse conglomerate, including The Great Northern Realty Company, The Chicago Bee, and the Victory Life Insurance Company. This was the first major conglomerate led by an African-American.

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4927 S Indiana Ave

4927 South Indiana Avenue

Chicago, IL 60615

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