[graphic header] Chicago: A National Register of Historic Places Travel Itinerary, National Park Service

Chicago Bee Building

Bee Building, exterior
Photos courtesy of Cervin Robinson.

Bee Building, exterior detail

Confident in the vitality of the Black Metropolis of Chicago, entrepreneur Anthony Overton commissioned his second building in this commercial district for the offices of the Chicago Bee, an African American newspaper he founded in 1926. Ironically enough, soon after the completion of the three-story office and apartment building in 1931, Overton was forced to consolidate his assets and move out of his first building, the Overton Hygienic Building. His cosmetics firm shared occupancy in the Chicago Bee Building after the Great Depression collapsed his Douglass National Bank.

Designed by Z. Erol Smith, the Chicago Bee Building is the only building in the area representative of the Art Deco architectural style and features a richly detailed facade executed entirely in terra cotta. The ground floors are finished in two shades of green with intricately incised ornamentation.

The Chicago Bee Building remains mostly unaltered. In the early 1980s, the city of Chicago purchased the building and currently operates it as a branch of the Chicago Public Library.

The Chicago Bee Building, a branch of the Chicago Public Library, is located at 3647-3655 S. State St. and is open to the public Monday-Thursday 9:00am to 8:00pm; Friday and Saturday 9:00am to 5:00pm; closed Sunday. Call 312-747-6872 for further information.

The Chicago Bee Building, part of Chicago's Black Metropolis, is the subject of an online-lesson plan produced by Teaching with Historic Places, a National Register program that offers classroom-ready lesson plans on properties listed in the National Register. To learn more, visit the Teaching with Historic Places home page.

 

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