The Chicago Greystone & Vintage Home Program ® has deep roots in Chicago’s West and South Side neighborhoods. The program originated as the Historic Chicago Greystone Initiative ® in 2006 in the North Lawndale neighborhood and over the past nine years has expanded into an important resources for vintage homeowners City-wide. At the same time, the Greystone Initiative ® has lent its voice to celebrating the rich African-American and Hispanic heritage of the West and South Sides, as well as working with community groups and preservation organizations to advocate for the protection of reuse of significant local buildings.
You can count on the Chicago Greystone & Vintage Home Program ® to continue and expand this cultural heritage and advocacy work through its ongoing Community Building activities. See below for more information on our past projects and what we are working on now.
Examples of Past Projects
Contract Buyers League Exhibit
In 2015, the Chicago Greystone & Vintage Home Program ® worked with NHS’ Neighborhood Strategy Program and the North Lawndale Cultural & Historical Society to help tell the story of the Contract Buyers League (CBL). The CBL was a collective of African-American homeowners, originating in the West Side community of North Lawndale, who, in the late 1960s fought against the exploitive sales of homes to blacks through usurious contract selling. The CBL’s efforts represent a key moment in not only the civil rights history of North Lawndale, but also in the larger national fight for fair housing and access to equal credit. The Contract Buyers League exhibit, featuring 14 narrative and graphic display panels, was unveiled at a community event featuring “Family Properties” author Beryl Satter (whose book is an authoritative history of contract selling in Chicago) and CBL leaders Clyde Ross and Jack McNamara.
Pillars of Auburn Gresham
Exploring the history and amenities of a community can be a powerful way to help build pride of place amongst residents and help attract new investment. In 2014, the Chicago Greystone & Vintage Home Program ® worked with Landmarks Illinois and NHS’ Neighborhood Strategy program to develop an 18-minute film about the of the South Side community of Auburn-Gresham. The film, which was produced with generous support from the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, includes interviews of with local figures telling the history of, and their personal involvement in, the Auburn-Gresham community’s key significant places.
K-Town Historic District
In 2007, the Chicago Greystone & Vintage Home Program ® partnered with neighborhood residents, the Chicago Field Office of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency to explore the social and architectural history of the K-Town section of the North Lawndale community. Encompassing sixteen square blocks and more than 500 buildings, K-Town is bound by Cullerton Street to the north, Cermak Road to the south, Pulaski Road to the east, and Kostner Avenue to the west. K-Town’s named is derived from the preponderance of street names starting with "K".
Architecturally speaking, K-Town is a microcosm of Chicago vernacular design featuring an unusual mix of greystones, gable fronted brick homes, workers cottages, and bungalows for such a small area. Historically, K-Town highlights the pride of place exhibited by the Czech/Bohemian immigrants who developed the area in the early 1900s and the African-American homeowners who became stewards of the neighborhood during the second leg of the Great Migration following WWII. Based on this rich heritage, the K-Town Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2010 – the first such district in North Lawndale. Growing out of the community-based process underlying this designation, neighborhood residents subsequently formed the K-Town Historic District Association to continue to research, celebrate, and preserve the history of K-Town.