The Forum is located on the northwest corner of the intersection of East 43rd street and South Calumet Avenue in the the Grand Boulevard Neighborhood of Chicago. Constructed in 1889 the large ballroom and offices above served a variety of functions focused on both the arts as well as other cultural and social institutions throughout its history. Constucted before the major influx of African Americans to the area its uses changded to adapt to the larger Bronzeville area that would come to be known as “Black Metropolis”.
The hall became a scene in the early days of both Jazz and Blues music. It served the community as a dance hall hosting both dance classes as well as serving as a meeting hall for both early labor and civil rights groups. The Building as well as the area began to decline by the 1970’s and as the ballroom fell out of use so did the buildings began to deteriorate. What was once part of a small hub of local business became has become a hollow shell of its former glory.
After standing vacant for almost four decades the building was purchased by Bernard Loyd and Urban Juncture inc. Their goal is to restore the Forum to its original function as a hall to help serve the cultural and social needs of its community. The most formidable obstacle in the way of the this is the current physical state of the building. The almost 40 years of neglect have taken its toll on the building both on its exterior as well as its interior structure.
The once vibrant space has decayed almost to the point that the only way to see what it used to be is to close your eyes. Bernard and the Urban Juncture are looking to change that. He and his organization are looking to make The Forum a place that both draws people to the community as well as becomes a central aspect of the area that can give the residents pride in their shared history.