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Bronzeville, Near South Side

GN Bank On King Drive, An Overlooked Bronzeville Gem

Lee Bey's Overlooked Architecture of the South Side highlights the black-owned GN Bank at 4619 South King Drive.

GN Bank, 4619 S. King Drive, Bank Builders Corporation of America, 1962
Lee Bey
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BRONZEVILLE — Chicago architecture expert Lee Bey has written a new book detailing the South Side’s architectural gems, which are too often ignored when talking about Chicago’s rich history.

Block Club Chicago is highlighting some of the buildings photographed and chronicled by Bey in his “Southern Exposure: The Overlooked Architecture of Chicago’s South Side” (Northwestern University Press, $30). It is available here.

Today’s focus is GN Bank at 4619 S. King Drive in Bronzeville.

Lee Bey writes:

The former Illinois Service Federal, built in 1962 and designed by the St. Louis-based Banker Builders Corporation of America, is a nearly perfectly maintained example of midcentury architecture, right down to the topiary in front of the building. The building is marked by triangular windows that peek out from a concrete facade that folds as crisply as the pleats of a banker’s pants. But the bank’s significance goes beyond its well-turned design. Black people created this bank, first as a savings and loan in a kitchen-turned-office at the Rosenwald during the Great Depression. And it remains black-owned, having been purchased in 2016 by the Nduom family of Ghana.

RELATED: Lee Bey Chronicles South Side’s Architectural Beauty In ‘Southern Exposure’ — Something Black Chicagoans Have Long-Celebrated

“Southern Exposure: The Overlooked Architecture of Chicago’s South Side, ” (Northwestern University Press, $30).