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Photo by Jamie Nesbitt

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Photo by Tyler LaRiviere

Granville T Woods Academy

Since 2013, the neighborhood of Greater Englewood has seen the closure or relocation of 14 schools: Altgeld, Amanda, Banneker, Bontemps, Earle, Goodly, Harper, Hope, Mays, Robeson, Sizemore, TEAM Englewood, Wentworth, and Woods. Like many of its peers, Woods' namesake honored a Black, American luminary; in 2005 school was renamed the Granville T. Woods Math & Science Community Academy for the inventor known as the ‘Black Edison’.

 

In 2017 the Greater Southwest Development Corporation had its bid approved to redevelop the Woods property to provide job training opportunities, apprenticeship and entrepreneurial programs, and support the expansion of the 63rd Street Education and Commercial Corridor. However, the $90,000 sale fell through because of new damage and vandalism before the deal closed. But that did not deter local organizing, development, and programming.

 

In 2019 the Woods grounds hosted an evening of storytelling through performances, curated projections, and memories collection called ‘Ain’t You Heard – What Happens to a Dream Deferred?’. Co-hosted by Wrightwood 659, R.A.G.E., Borderless Studio, and Creative Grounds, visual projections during the performance depicted Black life during the Great Migration through historic photos of Chicago and the South. A “memory station” asked participants to share their stories related to their journey and belonging in Chicago, which were later shared in a gallery walk.

 

In 2020 the Inner-city Muslim Action Network (IMAN) began negotiations with the Chicago Board of Education and the Department of Planning and Policy to repurpose the property into a hub for housing, reentry services and green innovation as part of a larger effort to revitalize a neglected corridor in the South Side neighborhood, called Go Green on Racine. It is slated to begin redevelopment at the end of 2022.

Researched by Jenna Pollack

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TIMELINE

Click here to see complete PDF

Quick Facts

Address: 6206 S Racine Ave, Chicago, Illinois 60636

School Type: Neighborhood

Neighborhood: West Englewood

Student Body: 98% Black

Building Area: 65,000 sqft

Land Area: 102,733 sqft / 2.36 acres

Zoning: RS-3

Assessed Value: $75,000 - $100,000

Sale Price: $1, Sister Agency Transfer

Transfer Date: October 28, 2020

Title Owner: Chicago Department of Planning and Development

Planning Region: Southeast

Repurposing Restrictions: Cannot be used as a K-12 charter school.

Annual Maintenance Costs (as school): $259,167

Annual Carry Costs (vacant): $59,931

Design by Zhilin Cai

Go Green on Racine Initiative:
Reentry Holistic Life Center AKA The Regenerator

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Image by IMAN Central

The Reentry Holistic Life Center AKA The Regenerator will soon be a hub for housing, reentry services and green innovation. The redevelopment team describes it as a space for renewal, radical re-imagination, and regenerative source of opportunity. It will house multiple programs and be an innovative response to the expected release of thousands of incarcerated individuals. By serving more than 3,500 returning citizens annually with an holistic approach, it will bring stability to at-risk populations, improve public safety, and fuel Englewood’s growing green movement.

The project is part of a wider initiative called Go Green on Racine,  a multi-million-dollar initiative to bring environmentally sustainable development to the area around 63rd Street and Racine Avenue. It was launched collaboratively by the Inner-city Muslim Action Network (IMAN), Teamwork Englewood, Residents Association of Greater Englewood (R.A.G.E.), and E.G. Woode. It was a finalist for the 2020 Chicago Prize, a $10 million grant supported by the Pritzker Traubert Foundation. While it did not receive the award, it helped to catalyze forward motion with the redevelopment process. The $12 million project is being partially funded by the Crown Family Foundation, Islamic Relief USA, and Low Income Housing Tax Credits.

 

The Chicago Board of Education transferred the title to the Department of Planning and Development (DPD) in late 2020 to begin a negotiation agreement with IMAN. DPD is slated to soon transfer the property title to IMAN, kicking off the construction process.

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Michael Nash (right) stands with Rami Nashashibi (middle) and Ben Gordon, IMAN’s director of construction, outside closed Granville T. Woods Math & Science Academy Elementary School.

Photo by Tyler LaRiviere

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Image by IMAN Central

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Image from an 1895 feature in Cosmopolitan Magazine

About Granville Tailer Woods

Granville Tailer Woods (April 23, 1856 – January 30, 1910) was an American inventor known as the 'Black Edison' who held more than 50 patents. He is also the first American of African ancestry to be a mechanical and electrical engineer after the Civil War. Self-taught, he concentrated most of his work on trains and streetcars. One of his notable inventions was the Multiplex Telegraph, a device that sent messages between train stations and moving trains. His work assured a safer and better public transportation system for the cities of the United States. In 1872, Woods obtained a job as a fireman on the Danville and Southern Railroad in Missouri, eventually becoming an engineer. In December 1874, he moved to Springfield, Illinois, and worked at a rolling mill, the Springfield Iron Works. He studied mechanical and electrical engineering in college from 1876-1878. In 1878, he took a job aboard the “Ironsides”, and, within two years, became Chief Engineer of the steamer. When he returned to Ohio, he became an engineer with the Dayton and Southwestern Railroad in southwestern Ohio.

 

In 1880, he moved to Cincinnati, Ohio and established his business as an electrical engineer and an inventor. After receiving the patent for the multiplex telegraph, he reorganized his Cincinnati company as the Woods Electric Co, but in 1892 he moved his own research operations to New York City, where he was joined by a brother, Lyates Woods, who also had several inventions of his own.

Sources: Chicago Reporter, Chicago Sun Times, Go Green on Racine, Kalyn Belsha, IMAN, New York Times, and Wikipedia

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