Friday, February 12, 2010

I was down at IIT last week and wandered by this grand old edifice in Bronzeville. I’d heard of it before but never really stopped to look at the details. While I personally like the Chicago Bee Building down the street more, this building is still really nice. A cornerstone building in what used to be “The Stroll,” the grand African American Main Street of Chicago, it is located at 3619-3627 South State Street. The building was built in 1922, commissioned by Anthony Overton, who ran several businesses from within the building, including Douglass National Bank, Victory Life Insurance Company, and the Overton Hygienic Company. Overton Hygienic was one of the biggest-name African American cosmetics companies during the early to mid-20th century and remained in business until the early 1980s. In the later 20th century, Bronzeville fell on hard times, and the building became a 375-bed flophouse. It was recently restored by the Mid-South Planning and Development Commission as an incubator for small businesses. There were lights on in the upper floors but the retail in the first floor is vacant, looking for new tenants.

The Overton Hygienic Building is one of nine buildings that make up the Black Metropolis-Bronzeville City Landmark District, which was created in 1998, and has also been on the National Register since 1986.

Posted by Posted by The Loosh at 7:00 AM