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07.29.21 | Arts & Culture

Performing Arts Center comes to old Marshall Fields Building in Bronzeville

As we’ve seen with the initiative to restore The Forum and the persistent preservation of Black and African-American history through the Bronzeville’s Historical Society, new projects continue to emerge across the Bronzeville neighborhood, including a renovation of the former Marshall Field Warehouse. 

The warehouse, located at 4343 S. Cottage Grove Avenue, will be reimagined as a performing arts center and museum. The original building was erected in 1915 by Marshall Field and had a sister building located in Lakeview — now also a theatre. 

The building will continue to hold great significance as home to the future African American Museum of Performing Arts (AAMPA). This “living” museum will house an archive of African American performance art and allow visitors to experience, participate and witness an abundance of performance art. You can learn more about the AAMPA here on their website

The planned theatre, to be known as the Lillian Marcie Theatre, will include a 350-seat main theatre, a 100-seat black box theatre, dressing rooms, rehearsal areas and a roof deck. The theatre’s name originates from the nonprofit group overseeing the project, Lillian Marcie Legacy Company. Actor Harry Lenox, who is part of the all-star team developing the project alongside Keith and Aaron Giles and Michael Worldlaw, named the nonprofit after his mother, Lillian, and longtime mentor, Marcella “Marcie” Gillie. 

The Chicago Community Development Commision voted in mid-July to recommend $3 million in tax increment financing (TIF) be set aside by the City Council to help finance the project in Bronzeville. Along with TIF, the nonprofit also seeks to take advantage of other tax benefits in order to develop the future project contracted by Ujamaa Construction. 

With plans to start construction in January 2022 and complete the work in early 2023, the Lillian Marcie Legacy Company and Bronzeville neighborhood have yet another exciting development to look forward to as the community’s entertainment and cultural offerings continue to flourish.

A rendering of the future Lillian Marcie Theatre and museum in Bronzeville
Courtesy of the Chicago Department of Planning and Development
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