The Chicago Bee Branch of the Chicago Public Library re-opened in December 2018 after a comprehensive $2.32 million renovation funded by the Chicago Housing Authority. The project included restoration of the exterior Art Deco terra cotta, a replacement exterior storefront designed to match the original building, and extensive interior renovation. Located at 3647 S. State Street, the building became a Designated Chicago Landmark in 1996 as part of the Bronzeville Historic District.
Designed by Z. Erol Smith in 1929, the beautiful Art Deco building was built to house the Chicago Bee newspaper at the direction of Anthony Overton. Overton was the founder of The Chicago Bee and was one a highly successful African-American entrepreneur in Chicago and a powerful champion of Bronzeville. In fact, the name Bronzeville was first used by Chicago Bee editor James Gentry to describe the neighborhood’s vibrant businesses and thriving culture.
Preservation Chicago applauds the Chicago Public Library, Chicago Housing Authority, 3rd Ward Alderman Pat Dowell and Mayor Rahm Emanuel for their leadership in this outstanding project. The investment by public agencies to adaptively reuse Chicago’s historic buildings provides necessary services to Chicagoans today while protecting Chicago’s historic buildings for future generations.