“The hulking, red brick John Lothrop Motley School originally opened in West Town in 1884, helping to serve the influx of immigrants coming to the neighborhood. It was later known as Near North Elementary, and served exclusively special education students until 2013, when it became one of the 49 Chicago schools shuttered in the largest round of school closings in U.S history.
“The building is now entering a new chapter, becoming the latest of those shuttered schools to be redeveloped into apartments. It incorporates many pieces of the shuttered school; floors from the school gym, chalkboards from classrooms and transom lights above doorways remain today.
“Now called Motley School Apartments, the building contains 34 new apartments, many of which lie within the walls of previous classrooms. The apartment building is about a block south of Eckhart Park on Chicago Avenue at 739 N. Ada St.
“Svigos Asset Management, a Buffalo Grove-based firm, bought the school in 2015 for $5.1 million. Svigos also bought another shuttered West Town school, Peabody Elementary School, 1444 W. Augusta Blvd., for $3.1 million. The developer previously renovated Mulligan School Apartments in Lincoln Park.
“These developments aren’t easy,” Svigos’ Nick Vittore said. “They rely heavily on Historic Tax Credits and guidance from the city’s Commission on Landmarks.” (Alani, Block Club Chicago)
The John Lothrop Motley School designed by noted Chicago architect and Chicago Public Schools Chief Architect John J. Flanders in 1884. An 1898 addition was designed by Norman Smith Patton. The historic building was designated a Chicago Landmark in 2016 as part of a reuse plan for the closed school in this highly desirable community and located across the street from Eckhart Park and Eckhart Park Fieldhouse. Preservation Chicago supported this development throughout the designation process including testimony before the Commission of Chicago Landmarks.
Inside West Town’s Shuttered Elementary School Now Known As Motley School Apartments; The school, which was called Near North Elementary when CPS shut it down in 2013, has been converted into apartments that feature some former elements of the school, including chalkboard. Hannah Alani, Block Club Chicago, July 26, 2019