Nation of Islam founder Elijah Muhammad’s daughter’s house has new owner
Crusader Staff Report
Going, going, gone.
On Woodlawn Avenue in Kenwood, where boxer Muhammad Ali was among the residents who lived in classic English Tudor mansions that sit far back on huge front lawns, lie several unique homes that once belonged to Nation of Islam founder Elijah Muhammad and his family. Today, Minister Louis Farrakhan lives in one of them, a mansion that Elijah Muhammad once lived in on Woodlawn, on the east side of the street.
But on the west side of the street sit four smaller, but similar architecturally-styled homes that were once part of Elijah Muhammad’s compound.
Two weeks ago, one of them was sold for $1.1 million to a married couple, neuroscientist Sliman Bensmaia, an associate professor, and his wife Kerry Ledoux, a lecturer in the Department of Psychology, both at the University of Chicago.
With its modernist and Mediterranean style architecture, they snatched up a gem that includes many original features along with sweeping modern amenities.
The two-story house was owned by Ethel Muhammad Sharrieff, Elijah Muhammad’s daughter. After Ethel died in 2002, her two daughters gained ownership of the property. According to records from the Cook County Recorder of Deeds, in 2009 the property was bought by Jorge P. Parada and Isabel Bichao for just $510,000. After borrowing $144,000 last March, the two sold the property to Bensmaia and Ledoux on August 13.
The Crusader emailed Bensmaia to comment for this story, but he did not respond as of press time Wednesday.
In the 1970s, Elijah Muhammad commissioned famous Egyptian architect M. Momen to build the house, along with his mansion and the other buildings. The houses were built for his family and aides.
For decades his manse and the blonde brick structures across the street have piqued the curiosity of drivers and visitors to Kenwood. However, few have seen inside the residences, which infuse modernist architecture with traditional Mediterranean elements.
Real estate marketing pictures that have since been taken down provided prospective buyers a glimpse of the unique, exquisite interior of the sold property, which was described as “a modern house with a North African twist.”
According to Ultimate Realty which brokered the deal, the house includes almost all of its original designs.
In addition to six bedrooms, the home has three bathrooms and two powder rooms. Upstairs is a master suite with an enclosed balcony.
A mahogany ceiling covers a sunken living room and arched passageways accentuate the interior’s exotic look. There is also a large family/entertainment room, a formal dining room, a new eat-in kitchen and two garages. The home’s features include a two-story high atrium beneath a large skylight.
Elijah Muhammad died in 1975. His son, Warith Deen Muhammad, disbanded the Nation of Islam and created a progressive, mainstream Islamic movement that became the American Society of Muslims.
In 1977 Minister Louis Farrakhan revived the Nation of Islam and with a $5 million donation from Moammar Gadhafi, purchased the 21-room sandstone manse in Kenwood that includes marble floors and crystal chandeliers. Farrakhan still lives there today.
Choose Chicago, the city’s tourism agency, lists the manse on its website as a place of interest.
Down the street, Muhammad Ali lived in a red brick Tudor mansion after he was convicted for his refusal to enter the military draft and forced into exile from the late 60s and 70s.
Banned from the sport after his opposition to the Vietnam War, he became a member of the Nation of Islam and wanted to live close to Elijah Muhammad, whom he considered a mentor and friend. Ali eventually moved out of his manse after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned his conviction in 1971.