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Bronzeville, Near South Side

Overton Elementary School In Bronzeville, An Overlooked South Side Building With A Hopeful Future

Lee Bey's Overlooked Buildings of the South Side: Overton Elementary School at 221 E. 49th Street closed in 2013.

Anthony Overton School, 221 E. 49th, Perkins & Will, 1961
Lee Bey
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BRONZEVILLE — Block Club Chicago is highlighting some of the buildings chronicled by architecture expert Lee Bey in his new book “Southern Exposure: The Overlooked Architecture of Chicago’s South Side” (Northwestern University Press, $30). It is available here.

Today’s focus is Anthony Overton Elementary School at 221 E. 49th Street in Bronzeville.

Bey writes:

Anthony Overton Elementary School, 221 East Forty-Ninth Street, was closed in 2013, but the building might be able to teach a few lessons yet. Built in 1963, the three-story school designed by Perkins & Will is a superb example of midcentury modern architecture. The building is essentially a trio of glass and glazed brick towers that
are linked by glassy hallways on each floor. The result is a wonderfully transparent and open building, filled with views and natural light and — when the school was in business — animated by the movement of its young students.

Bronzeville real estate developer Ghian Foreman purchased the school after it closed and worked to get it listed on the National Register of Historic Places. He’s allowed artists and designers to access the building and keep it busy and populated with public events while he works to figure out the schoolhouse’s next chapter.


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