Crusader staff report
The Woodlawn house and the school attended by Emmett Till, the 14-year-old boy whose brutal murder help spark the Civil Rights Movement, may become a Chicago landmark.
The advocacy group, Preservation Chicago pitched the idea to city officials in September, days after Till’s cousin Simeon Wright died. Wright was with Emmett in Money, MS in 1955, when two white men kidnapped Till at night and brutally killed him, throwing his body into the Tallahatchie River with a large fan attached to it. The men, Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam, were acquitted of murder during a trial that lasted only one hour. The men accused Till of whistling at Bryant’s wife Carolyn, at a store they owned in the small town. Earlier this year, Carolyn admitted to lying during the trial, saying Till never made physical advances or verbal threats to her.
In Chicago, Till’s mother Mamie Till-Mobley, allowed an open-casket funeral to show the world her son’s badly disfigured face and bloated body. Nearly 100,000 people viewed Till’s remains at Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ at 4021 S. State Street, now a Chicago landmark.
In Woodlawn, Till lived in the two-story flat at 6427 S. St. Lawrence before he made that fateful trip to Mississippi. At the time, Till’s mother owned the house, a 2,308 square-foot residence. In the neighborhood, he was known as a bright, active teenager, nicknamed “Bobo.” In 2016, the Crusader reported that the previous owner Elite Management, bought the house, renovated it and sold it without knowing its historical value. The building was reportedly sold in 2016 to Brahmananda Bandela for $175,000. Bandela lives in New Jersey while the house remains vacant. Elite Management, which buys and sells many vacant homes on the South Side still manages the property.
Preservation Chicago also wants to make Till’s elementary school a city landmark. The school, McCosh Elementary School, which is blocks away from Till’s home, has been renamed Emmett Louis Till Math and Science Academy.
The nomination is the first step in designating a property a Chicago landmark. The awarding of “landmark” designation protects historical buildings from being demolished or significantly altered.
While city officials consider designating Till’s home and school Chicago landmarks, another important piece of history is in the spotlight.
On November 8, the city council introduced an ordinance that would designate the Rosenwald Court Apartments in Bronzeville, as a Chicago landmark. Built by Sears and Roebuck President Julius Rosenwald, the complex located at 46th and South Michigan, was once the home of music producer Quincy Jones, boxing legend Joe Louis and actress Marla Gibbs. Last year the complex opened after a $132 million renovation.