Video: On The Real Film
Photo: Brandon Fields
Sandra Steinbrecher is a Chicago based freelance photographer focused mainly on documentary projects. Her assignments for Chicago Public Schools have taken her schools all around the city to record their challenges and successes. In the last few years, she created photo diaries documenting life at Roosevelt, Marshall, Fenger and Harper High Schools.
Sandra has been photographing the rebirth of Overton since late 2017. She has actively documented people, activities and spaces at former Anthony Overton Elementary with photography, interviews, and conversations. She is creating this portrait series to celebrate and share these stories.
As the building is rehabilitated and repurposed into its new function as a business and technology incubator, Sandra continues to search for those want to share their stories about Overton.
Stacey Adams has worked at Overton as the building’s caretaker, since it was purchased by Washington Park Development Group. He grew up and has lived nearby.
“Ghian had bought the building. I noticed the playground was gone. I was walking my kids to school and we walked past here every day and cut through. I was interested in the building. I thought, man, I’d love to go in, see the gym. The colors are so vibrant, I’d walk through just to see the colors of the walls. Then I saw Randy the welder. I thought they’re doing something here, something is going on. And I was curious about what it was about to become. Then I saw Randy out here welding and that was my opening to become a part of it. He put me to work welding, introduced me to Ghian and the rest is history.”
Norman Teague is a designer, artist and educator. He grew up in Bronzeville and attended Overton as a very young child.
“Overton is a special place for people who live or used to live here. The repurposing of Overton is at the least, a celebration of a model of what could happen, with vacant public spaces, especially schools. When you take away that level of function of schools and public spaces, you have to replace it with something of value, something that the community wants.”
Mike Rogers is a retired architect and the first and only African-American architect to serve as president of the American Institute of Architects, Illinois chapter. He attended Overton in 5th and 6th grade.
Remembering the school and teachers:
“As a young person it helped to build your morale and build your confidence for things you were able to do. Whatever you excelled in, it put a little bit of pressure on you to keep excelling, and that’s what turns you into an honor student. And next thing you know you’re getting all good grades and becoming an honor student. It matters in life. It’s one of the things I try to do now, I go to every school I can, to do career days to encourage young people of all ages.”