Students miss old Black House location on Sheridan Road, anticipate renovations


Evan Robinson-Johnson/Daily Senior Staffer

The exterior of the Black House. The renovations are scheduled to be completed next fall.

Neya Thanikachalam, Assistant Campus Editor

Northwestern’s Black House hosted the Black to School Barbeque on Monday at the space’s temporary location, 1856 Orrington Ave., to welcome new and returning students before the start of classes.

The Black House is currently located in the Sorority Quad, as its previous location, 1914 Sheridan Road, has been closed for renovations since late June.

The University selected the current temporary location after hearing input from various sources, including students, faculty and the Black House Renovation Steering Committee — and after students raised separate concerns during the search process.

However, some students felt a difference between the two spots. Medill sophomore Imani Harris said the temporary location doesn’t feel as “homey” as the original site.

“This feels like an office now with study space versus the Black House feeling like our space,” Harris said. “The Black House is just a space where we’ve set our norms. We know you could walk in. I just don’t really think I would come here to chill as much as I did in the other Black House.”

Plans for renovating the Black House were in place since July 2016. Following a period of extensive preparations, construction only began in August, following extensive preparations, which included selecting an architect, finalizing the design and getting the Black House ready for relocation. Renovations on the Black House are scheduled to be completed in Fall 2020.

Still, Harris added she was glad the temporary location came with services the original Black House had, such as free printing. Despite the differences between the two locations, Harris said she would still be coming to the Orrington location, especially for organization meetings and to use the printer.

Like her, SESP sophomore Sophia Simon said she can tell there is a difference between the environment of the Black House on Orrington, and hopes that renovations will be completed as planned.

“It’s important that (administrators) make an effort to make the process as quick as possible, because the Black House is a very important house to a lot of students on campus,” Simon said.“If they start slacking or are behind schedule, there will be a need for a student push.”

Soteria Reid, the Associated Student Government executive officer for justice and inclusion, said ASG will be “keeping tabs” on the progress of the renovations and start “asking questions” if renovations are pushed back. The SESP junior noted that although ASG did advocate for a temporary location of the Black House, it does not have a specific role surrounding renovations.

Reid said she was glad the temporary location was well-suited to meet the needs of Northwestern’s black community, but she is excited to see the renovated location on Sheridan.

“I miss the squeaky floors, I miss the smell of it, honestly,” Reid said. “I miss my Black House. It’s what I know, it’s what I remember, but they’re trying to make it better, and I can’t be mad at that.”

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