GRAND BOULEVARD — The Bronzeville Historical Society has moved into a permanent home — and plans to celebrate Saturday.
Visitors will be able to check out the organization’s digs at Parkway Ballroom, 4455 S. King Drive, where founder Sherry Williams is planning a grand opening event to announce the group’s return. It’s set for noon-2 p.m. Saturday.
People are invited to register for the opening event online.
The society opened on the Illinois Institute of Technology campus several years ago. But the pandemic forced Williams to close her office at the school, so the historian took her program virtual.
The move ended up working out, as finding a home that would allow space to grow was always part of the plan, Williams has said.
The new space is 5,000 square feet, with three classrooms large enough to accommodate 20-40 people and a common area where exhibits and photographs will be on display.
Among the exhibits will be “Reimagine Aunt Jemima,” a look at the lives of the women behind the iconic breakfast brand, which will be available for viewing through Dec. 31. It was previously on display at Woodson Regional Library.
“We had to pull archives from the Pullman [State Historic] Site, IIT and two storage units. It took about three weeks just to get everything in,” Williams said. “There were a lot of moving parts, but I’m excited.”
A second space will tell the story of the Great Migration through the items families brought with them from the South to the big city: trunks, a dressing table — originally owned by Williams’ great-grandmother — and a brass bed will all be on display.
Vintage photographs from Izola’s, the restaurant that was once the crown jewel of 79th Street, will also be available to view.
The ballroom itself is steeped in history, hosting legends like Nat King Cole and Count Basie in its heyday. Englewood native Clifford Rome reopened the ballroom in 2002.
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