“A plan to transform the South Side house of civil rights icon Emmett Till into a museum appears closer to reality now that the head of a nonprofit says her group is near a deal to buy the brick two-flat.
“‘We’re expecting to close immediately. … We’re already raising money for the stabilization of the building,’ Naomi Davis, founder and CEO of the local nonprofit Blacks in Green, said Monday.
“The group, which promotes sustainability, economic development and land stewardship in African American communities, has raised the funds to buy the house at 6427 S. St. Lawrence Ave., Davis said. She declined to disclose the purchase price. ‘We’re looking to create something worthy of the historic import of that family, the time, the place. We understand that it changed everything in America in its own way.’
“The current owner, Blake McCreight, of BMW Properties of Chicago, bought the house in September 2019 for $107,000. McCreight did not return phone calls Monday and Tuesday..
“On Sept. 3, the Commission on Chicago Landmarks unanimously granted preliminary landmark status to the house, the first step toward permanent landmark status that would protect the property from demolition or insensitive alterations.
“During that meeting, McCreight said he did not know about Till’s connection to the house when he bought it. He learned of its history from the advocacy group Preservation Chicago, which urged city officials to give the house landmark protection.
“Blacks in Green already owns a nearby parcel at 6354 S. St. Lawrence, home to the Mamie Till-Mobley Forgiveness Garden. The group recently planted 14 trees there to honor the 14 years of Emmett Till’s life.
“The nonprofit has reached out to the Chicago sculptor Richard Hunt to see if he would design a piece that would be “a fitting shrine to the family story,” Davis said. The piece could go in the garden or on a now-vacant property to the north of the house if Blacks in Green can acquire it. “We have asked and he is still considering,” Davis said. “We would have to raise the money for that too.” (Kamin, 9/21/20)