Another Former Chicago Public School Closer to Starting a New Life

Trumbull Elementary School (via Apple Maps)

Trumbull Elementary School (via Apple Maps)

Three years after the last school bell rang, Lyman Trumbull Elementary School at 5200 North Ashland Avenue in Andersonville is a step closer to opening its doors once again.

The city’s zoning board has approved a proposal to turn the century-old building into dozens of new residences and a community theater.  The Timeline Theater would occupy the ground floor of the 1909 building, and 49 condominiums would be carved out of the classrooms and other spaces on the upper floors.

The redeveloper is Svigos Asset Management, which has a number of small buildings its runs from Lakeview all the way out to west suburban Glen Ellyn.  With the help of 40th Ward Alderman Patrick O’Connor, the building is going to be put up for landmark status in order to get tax credits to help with the project.

Senator Lyman Trumball (D-Illinois)

Senator Lyman Trumball (D-Illinois)

Trumbull was designed by Dwight H. Perkins, formerly of Burnham and Root.  It was erected at a time when Chicago’s north side neighborhoods were flush with new immigrants, and school and other municipal facilities were being rapidly constructed to serve them.

The school building was organized around a central auditorium illuminated by a massive glass dome.  Unfortunately, it was boarded up in the 1950’s.

The school was named for Illinois senator Lyman Trumbull who was the person who introduced the legislation that would become the 13th amendment to the constitution, abolishing slavery.

In September of last year it was auctioned off by Chicago Public Schools for $5.25 million — about a million dollars more than its appraised value.  You can read more about that in the press release from September 29, 2015 below:



Chicago Board of Education Approves Sale of Former Trumbull School Site for $5.25 Million

Former School Site Will Be Redeveloped to Incorporate Residential Housing and a Community Theater

The Chicago Board of Education today approved an agreement to sell the former Trumbull Elementary School site to Svigos Asset Management for $5.25 million. The sale of Trumbull represents the highest dollar value CPS has received for a site involved in the 2013 School Actions and will require the property to be redeveloped to include residential housing and a community theater.

“The sale of Trumbull is another positive step in our deliberate process to repurpose all of our unused properties and redirect their proceeds to the classroom,” said CPS CEO Forrest Claypool. “The sale of Trumbull shows that when communities rally around a vision and the private and public sector work together, we can repurpose facilities, revitalize neighborhoods and bring much-needed additional revenue to the District.”

Following a comprehensive community engagement process led by 40th Ward Alderman Patrick O’Connor’s office to determine the preferred uses, CPS issued a bid solicitation in July for the former Trumbull site, which is located at 5200 N. Ashland Ave. The bid submitted by Svigos exceeds the appraised value of $4.1-$4.7 million. The bid approved today meets the community’s usage preference by requiring the property to be redeveloped to include a maximum of 49 residential units and a Chicago-based theater that provides performances and educational programs. The agreement also requires the purchaser to seek landmark designation from the City’s Commission on Chicago Landmarks.

“We are happy that we can bring a popular theater group and quality new housing to the neighborhood with the proposed sale of Trumbull,” said Alderman O’Connor. “We look forward to a finalized deal between Svigos and Timeline Theatre Company and subsequently to having additional live theater options in the neighborhood.”

CPS is engaged in a multi-phase strategy outlined by the Mayoral Advisory Committee for School Repurposing and Community Development to repurpose former school sites in ways that will meet the needs of each surrounding community and enrich neighborhoods for years to come. Since the beginning of the process, CPS has repurposed or sold 10 former school sites. Four former school sites were immediately repurposed to meet the programmatic needs of the city, and CPS has reached agreements to sell six other former school sites, including the sale authorized today.

A crucial component of the repurposing process is community engagement and input. The District continues to work with Aldermanic offices throughout the city as part of this process, and community meetings were held yesterday regarding the potential repurposing of the former Earle, Buckingham and Burnham school sites. The District is committed to repurposing all of its unused properties, and once preferred uses are determined by the community, the District will bring bid solicitations to the market.

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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