The Commission on Chicago Landmarks has approved the final landmark recommendation for the Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley House. Located at 6427 S St. Lawrence Avenue, the home sits on a typical Chicago lot between E 64th Street and E 65th Street in the West Woodlawn neighborhood.
The two-story, brick building was built in 1895. Mamie and Emmett Till moved into the three-bedroom apartment on the second floor, and an uncle and aunt lived in the first-floor apartment. Mamie Till-Mobley remained in the apartment until the early 1960s. The exterior of the home has been modified only slightly since August 1955. The concrete front steps have been replaced with wooden steps and a small covered porch. The basement windows have been replaced by glass block.
The home meets two criteria for landmark designation. The first is Criteria 1, the home’s value as an example of the architectural, cultural, economic, historic, social, or other aspect of the heritage of the City of Chicago, State of Illinois, or the United States. The second is Criteria 3, its identification with a person or persons who significantly contributed to the architectural, cultural, economic, historic, social, or other aspect of the development of the City of Chicago, State of Illinois, or the United States.
The home has also been identified as meeting the Integrity Criteria. The exterior of the home has been modified only slightly since August 1955. The concrete front steps have been replaced with a wooden porch. The basement windows have been replaced by glass block. All of these changes are minor and reversible and they do not impair the building’s ability to convey its significant association with Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley in particular, and the Civil Rights Movement in general.
Newly-owned by Blacks in Green, the landmark designation will designate all exterior elevations, including rooflines, of the building as significant features to be preserved. The new owners intend to make it a heritage and pilgrimage site, converting it for visitation. They will be putting together an advisory council of historians and architects to oversee the conversion that will ultimately result in a new museum. The vision is for it to not just be a house museum, but the owners will use the adjacent lots to amplify the memory of southern roots that tell the deeper story of the history.
Plans to acquire both empty lots adjacent to the home are currently underway. The owners are in discussion with the county regarding the adjacent lot, and are planning to negotiate with the private owner of the second empty lot adjacent to the house. A timeline for this museum conversion has not been announced. The landmark recommendation will need to be approved by City Council, likely in December.