City Tumbles For Jesse White, Lands River North Community Center

Drawing of the Jesse White Community Center, courtesy of Ghafari Associates

Over the weekend, the city of Chicago got a new community center.  The Jesse White Community Center (412 West Chicago Avenue) is a joint project between the Secretary of State's eponymous foundation and the Chicago Park District.

The facility was designed by Michigan's Ghafari Associates, which describes it thusly:

[The building serves] as the headquarters for the CPD gymnastics program and the internationally renowned Jesse White Tumblers, as well as provide fitness and assembly rooms for members of the surrounding community. The ground floor will house the following: a gymnasium with basketball court and bleachers; gymnastics facility; fitness room; community meeting rooms; a public computer lab and training center; locker rooms; and administrative offices. The upper floor will contain private offices and conference rooms, as well as a balcony overlooking the gymnastics room that will allow spectators to observe training and competition. Ghafari designed the facility to achieve LEED Gold Certification.

You may remember Ghafari Associates from such projects as the Federal Plaza rehabilitation, and United Airlines' cargo facility at O'Hare.

Since this was a partnership between the Park District and the Jesse White Foundation, naturally the press for it is being handled by Mayor Emmanuel's office.  You can read his statement after the image gallery. (All images courtesy of Ghafari Associates)


Mayor Emanuel, Governor Pat Quinn, Secretary Of State Jesse White, Chicago Park District Cut Ribbon On Community Center And Field House
Community celebrates opening of nearly 30,000 square foot facility with two gymnasiums

Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Governor Pat Quinn, Secretary of State Jesse White, Alderman Walter Burnett and community members today cut the ribbon on the new community center and field house on the city’s near north side.
“I couldn’t be prouder to cut the ribbon on a community center with Jesse White. There aren’t many people who have worked longer and harder to build stronger communities and a stronger sense of community for the City of Chicago than him,” said Mayor Emanuel. “This new facility is a prime example of the investments we’re making in neighborhoods across the City that strengthen our communities and provide safe places for neighbors to come together.”

The community center and field house was built through a partnership between the City of Chicago, the Jesse White Foundation and the Chicago Park District. The 28,934 square foot, two-story field house, which sits on a 1.30 acre site, contains a gymnasium, fitness room, gymnastics room, computer/learning center, meeting rooms, staff office space and restrooms with shower facilities. Site improvements to the park perimeter include landscaping, pathways, paving, parking area, bike racks, benches and lighting. The facility will be maintained and operated by the Park District.

“I have long envisioned a facility like the Jesse White Community Center and Field House to serve the community,” said Secretary White. “I’m proud to say that this vision is now a reality that will help improve the lives of all community members, including seniors and young people. The resources available here are absolutely outstanding. This is a wonderful partnership between the city of Chicago, the Chicago Park District and the Jesse White Foundation. The public will be well-served for many years by the educational and physical fitness programs offered at this facility.”

The project was funded by a combination of funding sources, including the City of Chicago, the Jesse White Foundation and the Chicago Park District.

A full complement of programs, including tumbling and gymnastics, will begin in mid-October.
The facility will also be the home of the Jesse White Tumblers. Jesse White created the Jesse White Tumblers in 1959 to provide a positive alternative for inner-city kids. More than 15,000 young men and women have benefited from the program. Team members must stay away from gangs, drugs, alcohol, stay in school and maintain a minimum “C” average.

Location: 412 West Chicago Avenue, Cabrini Green

Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at

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