Encyclopedia ofChicago
Entries : South Side Community Art Center
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South Side Community Art Center

 

 

 

South Side Community Art Center

Developed as part of the Federal Art Project, the South Side Community Art Center at 3831 South Michigan Avenue was formally dedicated by Eleanor Roosevelt in 1941. Its purpose was to make art and culture available to minority groups and to provide jobs in the arts for artists and other cultural workers. The center, whose alumni include Charles White, Bernard Goss, George Neal, Eldzier Cortor, Gordon Parks, Archibald Motley, and Margaret Goss Burroughs, continues to offer classes and inspire young artists. Margaret Burroughs, artist, poet, and founder of the DuSable Museum of African American History and Culture, recalls the center's origins.

In my early twenties, I stood on the corner of 39th Street and South Parkway (then Grand Boulevard) with a can collecting a “mile of dimes” to purchase the mansion which housed the center. We reached our goal and were able to purchase the property for $12,000. The local W.P.A. administration sent in workmen who renovated the building into galleries, workshops, studios, and offices.

In May 1941 Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt came from Washington to cut the ribbon. It was quite an event. 37th Street to 39th Street was crowded with community residents who came to catch a glimpse of our then First Lady.