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SUMMER 2023 


Since 2017, Creative Grounds @ Overton has created space for the community to stay connected with the former Overton Elementary School - future Overton Center for Excellence.

The first couple of years, through our themes Opening Closings (2017), 8x3: Art + Architecture (2018) and Process(ing) Transformation (2019), our focus was on making space for collective creativity and art/design work activating the different classrooms with multiple teams. The last two years, through pandemic we held space driven by solidarity and resilience to take care of each other while organizing opportunities to reflect on issues that we care about addressing – we served our community through the Southside Food Distribution Network (2020), worked on the Climate and Cultural Resilience Project (2020), and activated the grounds again through Frame(works) of Resilience (2021) and Reunite + Respond (2022).


This Summer of 2023, Creative Grounds @ Anthony Overton will continue to make space for community to keep this former school active and connected through the improvement of outdoor spaces, including the community garden along Indiana Avenue and the rain garden along Prairie Avenue.

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Illustration: Overton Center for Excellence Campus


Community Days are free & open to everyone, and include a variety of programming activities, workshops, performances.

Saturdays @ Overton Center for Excellence

(221 E 49th St - Enter on Indiana Avenue)

June 24, 11:00am-2:00pm / WELLNESS / with Leanna Allen

July 22, 5:30-8:30 pm / POETRY / with Justus Pugh

August 19, 5:30-8:30pm / GROUNDING with Write It Down Collective

September 23, 11:00am-2:00pm / REBUILDING with Center for Neighborhood Technology, Elevated Chicago + We Build Agency




As part of 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial, Studio BASAR designed and built the project Breaking Ground: The Schoolyard Workshop in collaboration with students and instructors from the Daniel Hale Williams Preparatory School of Medicine in Bronzeville and Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education (CAPE).


​In 2021 and 2022, Overton Community Garden continued building on the Breaking Ground project by Studio BASAR (2019).  One of the goals of this project is to provide an outdoor space for collective learning and gathering about growing healthy and fresh food while expanding active green areas along Indiana Avenue. The harvested greens and flowers are shared during Community Days.

This year the Overton Community Garden project is centered around collective healing. In addition to growing, caring and nurturing the garden, the team is curating a space for BIPOC creatives and genuine allies, to share and exchange practices of creativity, regeneration, rest and peace for us to heal together.


We are introducing healing salons featuring guided yoga, breathing exercises, and writing workshops. These activities aim to explore reflection through creative activities: poetry, gardening, herbalism, environmental justice, sip+paints, beginner tufting, beginner crochet, open mics, and small performances. These activities are coupled with our gardening days in an effort to build community and literacy around environmental resilience and food sovereignty and see it in action and raise awareness of the reactivation of Overton.


Photo: BREAKING GROUND project (Summer 2019)

We are super grateful for all the volunteers that year after year collaborate with us and make space together with us!




Anthony Overton Elementary School closed in 2013, and was purchased by the Washington Park Development Group in 2015. Designed and built by prominent local architects, Perkins & Will in 1963, Overton represents a modern and progressive approach to education reform and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2016.


The Overton Center for Excellence will transform the Overton School into flexible office space for entrepreneurs and nonprofits focused in the areas of CHANGE (Climate, Health, Arts & Culture, Next Generation, Growth and Education).

Sources: The Chicago Reporter,  National Register of Historic Places Program, City of Chicago Community Development Program




Anthony Overton (March 21, 1865 – July 2, 1946), a banker and pioneer manufacturer, was the first African American to lead a major business conglomerate. Overton established Hygienic in 1898 and produced baking powder, extracts, and toilet preparations. After moving the firm from Kansas to Chicago, he began to manufacture a full line of cosmetics and perfumes under the High-Brown Products label. He parlayed his early success with Hygienic into a highly diverse conglomerate, including The Great Northern Realty Company, The Chicago Bee, and the Victory Life Insurance Company. This was the first major conglomerate led by an African-American.

Source: Wikipedia






Destiny Brady (she/her)

“Born and raised in Chicago, I'm a Bronzeville native. Much of my work is centered around the stories I was told, the stories I made up, the truth, and the future. I pay very careful attention to the people in my work and ask that you do the same. There is a child-like tendency to my methodology in the way that I wonder and wander through each dissection, subtraction, addition, multiplication, scaling and assembly. Having my background in architecture I learned to view design fluidly, whether that be books or buildings."


Kenya Davis (she/her)

Born in San Francisco CA, raised in Chicago, IL. “I have been a resident of Bronzeville since 2010. I have a Masters degree in Community Economic Development with a specialization in Non Profit Management. I spend most of my time helping people start non profits, and provide them resources that will help them expand their business. In my free time I enjoy hanging out with my extended family, playing basketball with my son and walking on the lake."

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Lucero Flores (they/them)

Lucero comes from a lineage of land and agricultural caretakers. Born and raised on the south-side of Chicago, with roots in Zacatecas, Mexico, they have an expansive love for both urban and rural ecology. Lucero studied Earth and Planetary Science and enjoys learning and sharing knowledge through transdisciplinary artistic practices such as farming and gardening, carpentry, printmaking, ceramics, and repurposing materials. Lucero knows that people are not separate from nature - as we give reverence to our relationship with local ecology and community we can design a world that is more abundant and regenerative for everyone.

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