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Table of Contents > Chapter 10

Grand Boulevard — Washington Park (continued)

Shiloh Seventh Day Adventist Tabernacle illustrates the way in which a black church grew, prospered, and relocated further south in the city-the same path taken by earlier residents. Shiloh Tabernacle began in a storefront at 43rd and State Street in 1910. The following year the congregation built a church at 4806 S. Dearborn in the heart of the South Side Black Belt. By 1929 the congregation had moved to 46th and St. Lawrence Avenue at the east end of Grand Boulevard, and here the church remained for nearly thirty years. Today Shiloh Seventh Day Adventist Church of Christ is located at 70th and Michigan Avenue in the former Immanuel Church, which had moved to this neighborhood in 1914 from 46th and Dearborn!

In recent years several Grand Boulevard-Washington Park institutions have been revitalized. The Old Peoples Home at 4724 S. Vincennes Avenue has been remodeled into apartments for low-income families, the elderly, and the handicapped. In the summer of 1982, Provident Hospital opened a 300-bed facility at 51st and Vincennes Avenue, overlooking Washington Park. Founded in 1891 as Chicago's first black hospital, Provident moved to this area in 1929, occupying the University of Chicago's original Lying-in Hospital.

The Michigan Boulevard Garden Apartments, long a landmark on the South Side, have been added to the National Register of Historic Places, and in 1982 a $15 million rehabilitation program was inaugurated with backing from the City of Chicago and the Chicago Urban League. Although some new residential construction has taken place in the district, most new buildings such as Good Shepherd Tower on Garfield Boulevard are intended for the elderly rather than for families. As a result of declining population, business strips along 43rd, 47th, 55th, 58th, and 61st Streets have deteriorated dramatically in the last twenty years. Whereas neighborhood business strips once supported a variety of shops and restaurants, the only new businesses to emerge in recent years have been fast-food franchises. So many buildings have been torn down that Grand Boulevard and Washington Park now contain nearly as many prairies as they did in the 1890s. Indeed, the new Life Center Church of Universal Awareness at 5500 S. Indiana Avenue presents a stark contrast to the vacant lots which dot both sides of Garfield Boulevard.

Although only Cottage Grove Avenue separates Grand Boulevard and Washington Park from Kenwood and Hyde Park, these two districts remain as separate today as they did in 1930. Despite their proximity to the University of Chicago, Grand Boulevard and Washington Park have not been considered potential areas for renovation. Unlike "the Gap" at 35th and King Drive, where black professionals are renovating brownstones, the district around Washington Park has yet to be discovered by urban pioneers.

One of the most important events to occur in the area has been the opening of the Du Sable Museum of African-American History at 740 E. 56th Place. Dr. Margaret Burroughs donated her private collection of black art to this museum which is now housed in the old Washington Park Administration Building, designed in 1910 by D.H. Burnham & Co. Not only has the museum become the main attraction in historic Washington Park, but it is a powerful symbol for black Chicagoans who remember the days when Grand Boulevard and Washington Park formed the cultural and business center of the South Side Black Belt.

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