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SUMMER 2024 


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), Reunite + Respond (2022), and Growing Together (2023).


This season (Summer/Fall) of 2024, 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, the rain garden along Prairie Avenue, and the newly Public Outdoor Plaza called The Overton Exchange on the West part of the Overton Campus.


Our theme this year: Soil & Soul seeks to offer programming bringing a combination of history, reclamation, legacy, and seeds as portals.

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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.

April 11, 5-6pm - 2024 Season Kick-off (Virtual) 

Saturdays  @ Overton Center for Excellence 

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


April 27, 11:00am-3:00pm: A New Start

May 18, 11:00am-3:00pm: Marking Our Spot

June 15, 11:00am-3:00pm: Celebrating Milestones


July 20, 11:00am-3:00pm 

August 17, 11:00am-3:00pm  

September 21, 11:00am-3:00pm 

October 19, 11:00am-3:00pm




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.

In addition to growing, caring and nurturing the garden, the team will continue to make space for creatives and genuine allies, to share and exchange practices of creativity, regeneration, rest and peace for us to heal together.


Creative activities are coupled with our gardening activities 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.



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





Kenya Davis (she/her)

Kenya was born in San Francisco and raised in Chicago. She has been a resident of Bronzeville since 2010. Kenya is a professional in community economic development and non profit management where she helps people start non profits, and provides them with resources. She has been supporting Overton with her stewardship since 2022; she and her son Caleb are dear friends of Overton. 

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Cindy Cambray  (she/her)

Cindy is a Chicagoan, born and raised in Little Village, and currently a Southside neighbor in Kenwood. She's an urban planner by training, and a passionate advocate by heart.  Cindy has been a friend of Overton for a few years, and enjoys bringing her family to engage with different activities. Cindy will be helping this season with coordinating and planning activities, and engaging the community.


Lyndon Valicenti (she/her)

Lyndon is a Chicagoan, and a Southside neighbor. She's a social impact strategist, and when she's not being a business owner and leader, she loves exploring places and nature. Lyndon has been a friend of Overton for a few years, and this season she will be helping with her knowledge and green thumb to keep our gardens at Overton healthy and thriving.

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Paola Aguirre (she/her)

Paola is a native of the US-Mexico border region (Chihuahua), and an urban designer. She has been Overton's steward since 2017, and she continues to bring the community to connect with Overton and each other. She will be supporting the team in organizing activities for Community Days, and making sure the team has everything they need to keep Overton active and connected. 

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