Black House to officially reopen in October after over two years of renovation


Madison Smith/Daily Senior Staffer

The Black House on Sheridan Road. The house is due to fully reopen in October after over two years of renovations delayed by COVID-19.

Maia Pandey, Development and Recruitment Editor

After closing its doors for over two years to renovate and pandemic-related delays, the Black House is slated to fully reopen in early October. 

The University plans to celebrate the house’s reopening at 1914 Sheridan Road on Oct. 15 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and welcome reception hosted by the NU Black Alumni Association. After initially closing for renovations in June 2019, the Black House was set to reopen during fall 2020. But the opening was pushed back twice, first to mid-spring 2021 and then to this fall. 

“In full transparency, stock issues, shipping delays and additional interior construction work shifted our anticipated date of securing our temporary occupancy certificates, but we are now moving forward on all cylinders,” read a Sept. 17 update from the University.

The only renovations still to be completed are “finishing touches,” including installing doorway trims, safety rails, landscaping and completing the house’s rear patio, according to the update. The University posted a video tour of the nearly complete house in June, showcasing the newly furnished living room spaces and meeting rooms.

Lesley-Ann Brown-Henderson, executive director of campus inclusion and community, serves on the Black House renovation steering committee and led the video tour. In the video, she said the committee prioritized making the Black House feel like a home while keeping the design contemporary.

Accessibility was also a priority, she added.

“We have an elevator in this space,” Brown-Henderson said. “Every restroom is gender inclusive as well as wheelchair accessible and that is also… to allow students, staff, faculty and alumni the opportunity to really experience the full breadth (of the house).”

During the Black House’s closure, Black student organizations like For Members Only, Soul4Real and the African Students Association relocated to its temporary location on 1856 Orrington Ave., which reopened as a residence hall this fall. 

FMO, NU’s premier Black Student Alliance, has looked forward to using the Black House after meeting on Zoom for over a year, said SESP sophomore Mya Franklin, the group’s director of communications and marketing.

FMO held its first in-person event of the year with an outdoor “Black to School BBQ” last week, Franklin said. The event was a valuable space to meet other Black students on campus and “find joy,” she added.

Franklin said the Black House — which was built in 1968 in response to student activist demands — represents unity of Black students and a place for social, political and intellectual growth on NU’s campus.

“The history of the Black House is about liberation, it’s about anger, it’s about demanding what we are owed as Black people,” Franklin said. “FMO is definitely going to be using the Black House for not only meetings for the board, but also events (because) it’s a very real representation of what FMO stands for.”

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @maiapandey

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