The Commission on Chicago Landmarks unanimously recommended the Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley home for landmark status to City Council.
At the meeting early Thursday afternoon, it was also revealed that the property at 6427 South St. Lawrence Avenue has changed hands — it is now owned by Blacks in Green, a Woodlawn nonprofit headed up by Naomi Davis.
The next step in the landmarking process is a hearing in front of the City Council’s Committee on Zoning, Landmarks and Building Standards, after which it will go in front of the full City Council for final approval.
The commission passed a preliminary recommendation in September, though some commissioners worried at the time about the lack of a plan for the home under the previous owner. On Thursday, Davis said she plans to turn the home into a “heritage-pilgrimage site.”
“Acquiring the property is an honor and an obligation — we have an obligation to restore it,” she said, adding that she was working with an advisory board of historians and architects, and would solicit input from the local community. “We would be expecting the destination to be second only on the South Side to the Obama Presidential Center — such is the aspiration and ambition for the site. Not only a museum, and not your typical house museum.”
Davis also said that Blacks in Green would try to acquire some of the adjoining lots, which include city-owned land, for the project.
The house itself had been passed around between different owners the past few years, and accumulated a long list of building code violations.
“These opportunities really come to those who have tilled the soil and prepared for them. Because I think as we all know, this was going to be another house that was just a speculative venture, just a real estate deal,” said Department of Planning and Development Commissioner Maurice Cox on Thursday while praising Davis.
“I think if you had not already done the prep work, I don’t think we would have been able to mobilize, to intercede and to stop this from being another speculative real estate deal.”
Local organizations, including the Hyde Park Historical Society, have been pushing for several years for the brick two-flat where Till lived to be added as a landmark. As the Herald first reported, the breakthrough came this summer when Ald. Jeanette Taylor (20th) said she would kickstart the landmarking process by sending a letter of recommendation to the landmarks commission.
The next meeting of the Zoning Committee has not yet been scheduled.