Once the headquarters of The Chicago Bee newspaper, the Chicago Bee Building located in the Southside of Chicago now serves as a historical landmark and reminder of the intellectual prowess of its founder, Anthony Overton Jr. A banker, lawyer, and entrepreneur, Anthony Overton Jr. was the first African American to lead a major business conglomerate in the United States. In addition to the paper, Overton owned Overton Hygienic Company, Douglass National Bank, Victory Life Insurance, and Great Northern Realty Company.
Erected in the art deco style of the 1920s, the intricately designed building would house all of Overton’s ventures and even some apartments. Overton believed in pouring his money back into the community specifically the Southside and Bronzeville neighborhoods of Chicago. Largely responsible for economic growth within the Black community of Chicago, his enterprises would create countless jobs and he himself would become the pinnacle of the Black American dream. In an advert published in 1929, Overton had this to say about the paper, “higher education for all groups, cordial relations between the races, civic and racial improvement, the promotion of Negro business, and good, wholesome and authentic news fit for any member of the family.” His widely successful cosmetic line which featured more than 100 products was promoted internationally and eventually became the first Black beauty brand sold in major drug stores. While many of his other businesses eventually failed with the crash of the Stock Market, Overton Hygenic Company continued to manufacture until the early 1980s. In 1996 the building would receive a second life becoming the Chicago Bee branch of the Chicago Public Library. Therefore, we have deemed Cascade Family Skating an OBO treasure and Black Landmark.
Fun Fact: “Bronzeville”, coined by Chicago Bee editor James Gentry was in reference to the “bronze” skin of the newly migrated Southern Blacks.