The South Side house of Emmett Till, whose brutal murder helped spark the civil rights movement, has taken key steps toward becoming an official city landmark and a museum.
The Commission on Chicago Landmarks on Thursday unanimously approved a recommendation to the City Council that the house, at 6427 S. St. Lawrence Ave., be granted landmark status. That would protect it from demolition or insensitive alterations.
Separately, a local nonprofit seeking to turn the house into a museum confirmed Friday that it has purchased the property.
Built in 1895 in the West Woodlawn neighborhood, the two-flat was the home of Till and his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, before he traveled to Mississippi in the summer of 1955 to visit relatives. The 14-year-old was tortured and murdered Aug. 28, 1955, for allegedly whistling at a white woman at a convenience store.
Till’s mother chose an open-casket funeral at a South Side church to show mourners and the world the horror and violence her son endured.
Concern about the house, officially known as the Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley House, rose in September when the landmarks commission voted to give it preliminary protected status.
Preservationists expressed fear that the house’s then-owner, real estate developer Blake McCreight of Chicago’s BMW Properties might demolish the property or dramatically alter it, destroying its historic value. McCreight buys distressed properties and sells them to investors that want rental income, according to his website.
But McCreight indicated he would be willing to sell, and in October, the local nonprofit Blacks in Green, which promotes sustainability, economic development and land stewardship in African American communities, bought the house.
The sale to the nonprofit has not been recorded yet with the county.
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