Home History South Side Historic Homes: Where Did Lorraine Hansberry, Lu Palmer, and Ida...

South Side Historic Homes: Where Did Lorraine Hansberry, Lu Palmer, and Ida B. Wells-Barnett Live?

Go behind the scenes of the places where Black leaders called home.

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Ida B Wells Home
Photo Credit: Chicago Southsider

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There’s a saying that “home is where the heart is.”

But for many Black people who migrated from the South to Chicago, a home meant stability and upward mobility. It was a sign of getting closer to the “American Dream,” even though there were laws in place that may have tried to limit those ambitions.

Here are 3 historic homes you can walk by.

The Historic Lu Palmer Mansion

The Lu and Jorja Palmer Mansion in Bronzeville; Photo Credit: Rhinehart Media Group

Visit Here: 3654 S. King Drive, Chicago, IL 60653

The Lutrelle “Lu” and Jorja Palmer mansion was constructed in the 1880s for Justice D. Harry Hammer. Lu Palmer, also known as the godfather of Chicago black political activism, purchased the mansion in 1976. That was the same year Lu married Jorja English Palmer.

As one of Chicago’s prominent Black couples, Lu and Jorja worked together to promote Black independence. In 1980, the Palmers founded the Chicago Black United Communities (CBUC), which neighbors the Palmer mansion at 330 E. 37th Street.

The Chicago Black United Communities; Photo Credit: Charlene Rhinehart, Rhinehart Media Group

The couple was instrumental in putting the first Black mayor of Chicago, Harold Washington, into office.

Lu Palmer made a living as a radio host, reporter, journalist, and columnist. His work was seen at the Chicago Defender, Chicago American, and Chicago Daily News. Palmer came to Chicago in 1950, and died in his home in 2004.

The Ida B. Wells-Barnett House

Ida B. Wells-Barnett home; Photo Credit: Charlene Rhinehart, Rhinehart Media Group

Visit Here: 3624 S. King Drive, Chicago, IL 60653

Ida B. Wells is best known for her investigative journalism. She used data and research to expose the truth about the lynchings of Black men in the South.

Wells relocated to Chicago in 1894, and married Ferdinand Lee Barnett on June 27, 1895 at Bethel AME Church.

In 1919, the same year as the Chicago Race Riots, Ida and Ferdinand moved into a Romanesque Revival and Queen Anne architectural style home located at 3624 S. King Drive, formerly 3624 Grand Boulevard. They lived there until 1930.

The Ida B. Wells-Barnett home is a National Historic Landmark and a Chicago Landmark. The home is a private residence and is not open to the public.

Ida B. Wells-Barnett home; Photo Credit: Rhinehart Media Group

Lorraine Hansberry House

Lorraine Hansberry’s childhood home at 6140 S. Rhodes in Chicago. Photo Credit: Rhinehart Media Group

Visit Here: 6140 S. Rhodes, Chicago, IL 60637

Lorraine Hansberry was born May 19, 1930. She was the first Black woman to have a play produced on Broadway. Her play, A Raisin in the Sun, was inspired by what she witnessed on the South Side of Chicago.

Lorraine grew up in a middle-class household. Her father, Carl A. Hansberry, was a successful real estate broker. He also founded Lake Street Bank in Chicago. Her mother, Nannie Louise (born Perry) was a schoolteacher.

Lorraine’s father set out on a mission to buy property in the white Woodlawn neighborhood at 6140 S. Rhodes in 1937. This area had a restrictive covenant, which made it hard for Blacks to buy property in the area. Her family was met with resistance and violence. An angry protestor threw a brick at the window, almost hitting young Lorraine. The experiences in the home led to years of legal battles.

Lorraine Hansberry’s childhood home was declared a Chicago Landmark on February 10, 2010. The home is not open to the public, but you can drive by the space where Hansberry once called home.

Lorraine Hansberry’s childhood home at 6140 S. Rhodes in Chicago. Photo Credit: Rhinehart Media Group

What are your favorite places to visit on the South Side of Chicago? Let us know in the comments below.

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