BUYER WANTED: Nathan McGill House May Be Renovated After Sale

Nathan K. McGill House, 1887, 4806 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. Photo Credit: VHT Studios

“The dilapidated Martin Luther King Jr. Drive mansion of a Black attorney who played groundbreaking roles in law, newspapers, libraries and other fields may have a rescuer after a very short time on the market.

“The Victorian greystone mansion [at 4806 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive] in Bronzeville went on the market yesterday, and by midday today the listing agent already had a group of showings and a promise of an offer.

Built in the 1890s, the home for about the past 80 years has been owned by the family of Nathan K. McGill. The asking price is $500,000 for the property, a 56-by-151-foot lot that holds both the three-story, seven-bedroom house and a two-car garage with a two-bedroom apartment above.

“The house “’demands a lot be done,’ said Winston McGill Jr., one of three brothers, grandsons of Nathan McGill, who own and are now selling the house. Winston McGill said his generation had been planning to rehab the home since their father died in 2006, ‘but at this point in our lives, I don’t think we can give it what it’s demanding.’

“The utilities are working, but all need to be updated, he said, and the home still has its original woodwork, tile and stained glass. ‘Somebody can bring back all that original luster,’ Rountree said.

“McGill was the first Black assistant attorney general for the state of Illinois, appointed in 1929; was the first Black member of the Chicago Public Library board, appointed in 1930; and for nearly a decade, he was the second in command at the Chicago Defender, the historic newspaper that urged Blacks to move out of the South to the relatively more welcoming North. After McGill left the Defender in 1935, he founded his own newspaper, the Metropolitan News.

“In his legal career, according to historical articles archived online, McGill was admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1917, served as assistant state’s attorney for Cook County—possibly the first Black man in that post—and fought battles to strike down union rules that shut out Black workers.

“Nathan McGill had moved to Chicago from Florida in the late 1910s, encouraged to make the move by Chicago Defender founder Robert S. Abbott. The newspaper explained that McGill’s ‘color alone prevented him from receiving in Florida what he has in Illinois. In Illinois, he is a state’s attorney; in Florida, no matter how well trained he was, his color barred him. We are pointing out to you the advantages of living North, where a man with an education and a trade or profession is given a chance.’

“In the King Drive home, Winston McGill said, his grandfather’s ‘footprint is still here.'” (Rodkin, Crain’s Chicago Business, 10/19/21)

Read the full story at Crain’s Chicago Business

Pioneering Black attorney’s King Drive home may land a rescuer fast; A 19th century South Side home, owned since the 1930s by the family of Nathan McGill, was on the market less than a day when the first promise of an offer arrived, Dennis Rodkin, Crain’s Chicago Business, 10/19/21  

Nathan K. McGill Family Papers and Biographical Notes, Chicago Public Library

The City of Neighborhoods, Bronzeville

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