By Erick Johnson, Chicago Crusader
The Bronzeville Historical Society, a Black organization that had nowhere to go after it was forced out of its headquarters, will move into a new home at the Illinois Institute of Technology.
Sherry Williams, founder and president of the Bronzeville Historical Society, recently signed a two-year lease agreement for an office within a 20-story high-rise building at 10 West 35th Street.
The move is a step up from the society’s previous digs at the historical Stephen A. Douglas site in Bronze-ville, where Williams was forced to operate in cramped quarters with backed-up toilets and broken pipes. Despite making complaints and repairing parts of the facility with her own money, the state of Illinois which owns the site, wanted Williams to renew a lease that would triple the amount of her monthly rent to $600.
Unable to pay that amount as a non-profit organization, Williams’ organization was in jeopardy of being thrown out on the street with nowhere to go after operating five years on the site.
In addition, Williams has been unable to work full time since she broke her leg and other bones in an accident on the Dan Ryan expressway in July 2016. Her car hit a median after one tire came off, causing Williams to lose control of the vehicle. With few financial resources, Williams relies on friends and family for financial support.
Williams’ problems were chronicled in a Chicago Crusader story this past September. The Illinois Institute of Technology was among several organizations that offered space to Williams and her organization.
It’s a happy ending for Williams’ Bronzeville Historical Society, which maintains documents, photographs and artifacts documenting the history of Blacks during the Great Migration.
Williams’s organization will now occupy a 279 square-foot space on the ninth floor of the building known as the IIT Tower. Her new lease will give the organization access to the facility’s amenities, which include a fitness center, conference center and an auditorium, which will allow the Society to make special presentations to large audiences. The agreement also allows parking, but on a limited basis.