Lillian Marcie Center begins to bloom on South Side

CHICAGO — It could be exhausting to see proper now, however the constructing at 4343 South Cottage Grove is blooming into the Lillian Marcie Center.

Named after Harry Lennix’s mom Lillian and his mentor Marcella Gilles, the middle is a domino project of kinds, anticipated to spark a ripple impact of artwork and alternative all through the South Side.

“It’s been 15 years. It looks like it’s been overnight, but it’s been a long time with a lot of brains on this thing, a lot of people’s hearts and minds,” Lennix mentioned “We have a holistic approach to culture which we think will benefit not just the South Side of Chicago (but also) the children, which we hope will be able to aspire for something they can see in their own neighborhoods, where they won’t have to leave the world class entertainment that they invented. The inspirational and aspirational reality in a physical form which we hope will rival anything in the world.”

TaRon Patton is a part of the crew that birthed the concept. She’s additionally Lennix’s good pal, an artist and a giant dreamer.

She mentioned whereas their focus is making the area distinctly Chicago, when it comes to the massive image, they’re undoubtedly following a plan they’ve seen work.

 “Harry started talking about the Lincoln Center in New York and how Rockefeller kind of did the same thing,” Patton mentioned. “And had the idea of all these artistic entities coming together in one place and making a viable community. One hundred years ago, Bronzeville was the artistic mecca. Outside of New York, this is where the pulse was. Ella Fitzgerald lived here, Sam Cooke lived here, Louis Armstrong lived in Bronzeville. … And so, we started saying, ‘Man we would love to bring that viability back.’”

It was an concept that was a lot simpler to carry to fruition, thanks to some main assist from Governor Bruce Rauner.

“Illinois is the only place that has an Arts and Museums Committee, like they’re the only state doing that,” Patton mentioned. “And so, we went before them and said, ‘This is what we’re trying to do.’”

This week, the state introduced it was placing $26 million {dollars} behind the project.

“For me the money means hope,” Patton mentioned.

“We still have to raise a lot of money, but this is now something that has the confidence the state, of the government, and we want to be very careful to be responsible,” Lennix mentioned. “We will do that. This is not for any kid of self-aggrandizement. This is purely for the benefit of the community and we think of the whole wide world.”

 A world that begins with the children of Bronzeville and provides them an opportunity to see their very own massive desires come true.

“The power of imagination, there’s nothing like it in the known universe,” Lennix mentioned. “I think of the world and the universe itself as the imagination of God. But we can be the same thing. That by dreaming and being able to put that into a form, there’s nothing impossible to us.”

And not simply on stage or in entrance of the digicam. But within the viewers and behind the scenes.

 “We’re talking to the community leaders about creating programs for the kids where they can appreciate theater, but they can also learn about it as a business,” Patton mentioned.

Patton mentioned she hopes the middle can be a vacation spot for current legends and those nonetheless to come.

 “I see Wynton Marsalis. I see, you know, I don’t know — Denzel Washington doing a play here, I see kids (with) shows that they have written and produced and whatever. (I see) them coming here and this being the pinnacle. Like “I know I’m on my way to being a professional because I’m working at the Lillian Marcie.’”

“You can think about this would be the new catwalk, this would be the lighting stage. The theater is true under us. This place is simply an incredible architectural feat.

Mike Wordlaw, Harry’s pal and associate within the project was tasked with discovering the right spot for the middle.

“Here’s an original 100 year old barn door. You gotta look at this.”

When he found the cottage grove location they realized that they had occurred up a forgotten piece of Chicago historical past.

“This hay is all up in the walls here, you can see, so we’ve got the hundred year old hay in the bays of the walls. This is part of the old horse stable. Looks like it housed saddles, buckles. Carriages would come in and they would take them up to the second floor,” Wordlaw mentioned.

Built in 1918, this used to be a distribution middle for Marshall Field and Company.

“This would have probably been the area where he would have housed his inventory. This is one of the areas where the joints had started to collapse, really deteriorated because there was no roof for about 25 years.”  

And so the work, begins.

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