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Restoration of Bronzeville’s historic art center teaches youth about historic preservation

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The 127-year-old building is getting some much needed care

Photo courtesy Jacob Hand/National Trust for Historic Preservation

Bronzeville’s historic South Side Community Art Center has teamed up with local neighborhood kids to help perform the next phase of renovations in the building’s ongoing restoration.

Over the next several days, the youth group will work alongside experts to clean and repair the building’s masonry facade. The effort is part of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Hands-On Preservation Experience (HOPE) Crew program, the organization said Thursday.

Since 2014, the HOPE Crew has helped complete over 100 restoration projects across the country pairing at least 600 young people with preservation veterans. The program aims to provide valuable vocational experience and inspire more communities to save and protect their historic sites.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

Located 3831 S. Michigan Avenue, the South Side Community Art Center was originally built as a Georgian-Revival style residence for grain merchant George A. Seaverns, Jr. in 1892. The structure later served as a rooming house before its re-dedication as an arts center by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt in 1941 under the Works Progress Administration’s Federal Art program.

The South Side Community Art Center went on to launch the careers of many significant African American artists including William Carter, Margaret Burroughs, Charles White, Archibald Motley Jr., Gordon Parks, and poet Gwendolyn Brooks—the first African American woman awarded the Pulitzer Prize. In 2017, the National Trust for Historic Preservation designated the South Side Community Art Center a National Treasure.