The Forum building was built in 1897 by the architect Samuel A. Treat and contains possibly the oldest hardwood ballroom dance floor in Chicago.
This imposing red brick building played a significant role in Bronzeville’s cultural scene by hosting performances of music luminaries and providing space for civic groups and political meetings.
Forum Hall, the assembly hall located on the second floor of the building, is an iconic space that is largely intact, despite having been shuttered for more than 40 years. It carries layer upon layer of the history of the Bronzeville community, from the craftsmanship of ethnic Europeans that built it 120 years ago, to labor and civil rights meetings, to the musical performances of Nat King Cole, Captain Walter Dyett, Muddy Waters, and so many other great Americans.
After 40 years of vacancy, the Forum was deemed hazardously unstable. Narrowly saved from demolition in 2011 by Urban Juncture, it is now the centerpiece of Build Bronzeville, an effort to revive the surrounding area.
At this program, we will hear from the team currently working to rebuild the Forum, including Jada-Amina Harvey, Aaisha Haykal, Bernard Loyd, and Erica Ruggerio. Also on the team is musicologist Karen Stafford who will discuss the great musicians who carried their tunes from the South, throughout the Midwest, and to Chicago's Forum Hall.
Your generosity is vital in keeping the library’s programs, exhibitions, and reading rooms free and accessible to everyone. Make a donation today.