Military Academy Addition Gets Revised Design at Community Request

Terry Levin, (312) 744-9277

When the prestigious Chicago Military Academy-Bronzeville is expanded with the construction of a building addition, the design will fit better into the surrounding 35th Street commercial district thanks to a cooperative effort by the Public Building Commission and the community.

At the request of the Bronzeville Merchants Association, the PBC redesigned the appearance of the new addition to make its 35th Street side more architecturally inviting, adding wide windows on the first floor and an entrance on that side of the building, according to PBC Chairman Mayor Richard M. Daley.

Construction of the $16 million addition, which will add 15 class-rooms to the popular high school and extend the campus north to 35th Street, is scheduled to begin this summer and should take about one year, according to Eileen Carey, executive director of the PBC, which is building it for the Chicago Board of Education.

“This is an excellent example of how thoughtful feedback from the community can lead to a more attractive municipal building for everyone,” Daley said. “This new design will provide a more pleasant appearance that adapts better to the surrounding commercial district.”

Daley praised the Bronzeville Merchants Association and its officers, including BMA President Esther Barnett; and Alderman Madeline Haithcock (2nd) for working with the PBC and the city’s Planning Department to suggest the design changes.

The Chicago Military Academy has long been one of Daley’s favorite projects, since he strongly supports the city’s Junior ROTC program. As PBC chairman, he oversaw the original rehabilitation work converting the historic Eighth Regiment Armory building into the academy, while city government has employed JROTC students for several years in its anti-litter program.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the existing building at 3519 S. Giles Ave.-built in 1915-originally served as the first U.S. armory built for an African-American regiment, the Illinois National Guard’s “Fighting Eighth.” Its restoration and conversion into a high school military academy has been recognized by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.