Anyone who enters the nearly block-long brick structure in West Pullman expecting to find a typical collection of apartments for seniors is in for a pleasant surprise.
Wide corridors invite chance meetups. Generously sized windows stream light deep into the building. There’s an abundance of touches too rich looking to be new, such as built-in bookcases and old doors repurposed as decoration. And there’s the big nod to the past — chalkboards in most of the 60 units. Residents use them for notes and reminders.
Also, few senior housing sites have their own auditorium and gym, even if they are off-limits for now because of the coronavirus.
The building at 11941 S. Parnell Ave. is the old West Pullman Elementary School, with part of its structure dating from 1894. It grew to allow for a capacity of 2,000 students, but dwindling enrollment led former Mayor Rahm Emanuel to close it