Call for Posters: Save Chicago's Last Phyllis Wheatley Home



Elizabeth Lindsay Davis and a group of black women opened the first Phyllis Wheatley Home in Chicago in the early 1900s to support, educate, and provide a safe place for African American women and girls who either moved to the city during the Great Migration or who needed safe housing. A total of three Phyllis Wheatley Homes were opened in Chicago. The third and last remaining Phyllis Wheatley Home in Chicago is located at 5128 S. Michigan Avenue in Hyde Park.

The Phyllis Wheatley Home and Club’s name was inspired by Phillis Wheatley (1753 - 1784), a poet originally from West Africa. She was kidnapped and brought to the United States when she was seven, enslaved until her emancipation in 1773. Phillis Wheatley was the first person of African descent and the second woman to publish a book in America.

In addition to its importance as an institution for the advancement of black women, the 6,600 square foot home was built in 1896 and designed by the renowned Chicago architect Frederick B. Townsend. Despite its historical significance and architectural value, the Phyllis Wheatley Home is facing the threat of demolition due its poor physical conditions and code violations. The privately owned home has suffered water infiltrations and is in urgent need of repairs as well as a new purpose.

The Chicago Architectural Club aims to reimagine a new life for this important home that has changed the lives of many women. What future should this home hold?


The Phyllis Wheatley Home served Chicago's black community for 75 years and over 50 years in this location -- the preservation of this building will keep alive the memories of the black women who devoted their work to protecting and advancing black women’s rights.

At present, this building with significant historical memory and meaning faces an uncertain future with the threat of its demolition. Preservation Chicago has named the Phyllis Wheatley Home as one of the seven most endangered buildings of 2021 in Chicago. The Chicago Architectural Club (CAC) is calling for new visions in the form of posters as the first step to initiate crowd-sourcing ideas to save this site and honor its memory by imagining a new life and purpose for the Phyllis Wheatley Home.

Dr. Joann Tate - owner of the Phyllis Wheatley Home - envisions the continued future of the home as “a transformative oasis for Black Women who need any type of positive and/or productive transitioning”. What is the future of the last standing Phyllis Wheatley Home in Chicago?

The Chicago Architectural Club is calling for digital 11x17 posters - be it in the form of a sketch, a design proposal, or written statement. This does not need to be a formal design proposal. This call for ideas is open to architects, designers, artists, historians, students, policy makers, and anyone interested in Chicago's history and the design of a more equitable future.


Selected posters will be displayed in the fall of 2021 as a Partner Program of the Chicago Architectural Biennial “The Available City”. The following materials should be submitted:

One or multiple (maximum of two) 11 inch x 17 inch poster (tabloid) oriented in portrait format @ 300 dpi resolution; RGB. Participants can submit more than one entry. Each entry can be a maximum of 2 portrait sheets.

Submissions are electronic and submitted via email only to: The email subject line should read “2021 CAB Partner Program_Phyllis Wheatley Home”. There is no submission fee.

This is not an architectural design competition. Selected entries will be published on the CAC’s website and social media and will be exhibited during the 2021 Chicago Architecture Biennial “The Available City”.


Call for ideas: Thursday, August 26, 2021

Poster Submission Deadline: Sunday, October 10, 2021 at 5PM CST


Selected Posters will be exhibited in the front lawn of the Phyllis Wheatley Home, 5128 South Michigan Avenue. Posters will also be shown at a Partner event with the Chicago Architecture Biennial on Sunday, October 17th, from 2PM-6PM, at the PHYLLIS WHEATLEY HOME CULTURAL GARDEN, THE NEW FRONT PORCH, 5138 South Michigan Avenue.


Questions should be emailed to:


Chicago Architectural Club

Image design by Nathan Rennich


Preservation Chicago

Chicago Architecture Biennial (CAB)

Image courtesy of Chicago Architectural Club.