Since 1983, the Hellenic Museum and Cultural Center has been home to artifacts and exhibits dedicated to the Greek immigrant experience in Chicago and throughout the country. That home, however, has moved around in the last twenty-seven years, residing at three separate locations since its founding.
Now, Chicago's Greek community is celebrating the construction of the museum's fourth -- and, hopefully, final -- home.
Last Friday, the first phase of construction for the museum's new headquarters was completed--and a celebration was in order. Mayor Daley spoke at the event, and dancers in traditional Greek dress performed for the gathered crowd.
The building will be "a 40,000 square foot multi-generational building that embraces and synthesizes the past, present and future of the Greek - American community," according to the Greektown Chicago website. Its form replicates an ancient Greek architectural design, known as the meander or "Greek key."
Poignantly, the museum's steel frame is rising directly across the street from the site of a devastating fire earlier this year that destroyed three businesses and damaged a fourth, as the Chicago Tribune reports.
As the community works to rebuild, so too does it watch with anticipation as the museum takes shape. From the Tribune:
"The aftermath of the fire was depressing," said James Manolakos, who as a baby slept in a crib in the back of his family's pastry business. "We had some smoke and water damage, and it still took us four months to reopen."
"To see commotion, it's lovely," he said. "Greektown has been stagnant for a while. Having people around working, it gives life to the neighborhood. With it, Greektown will be an intellectual stop as well. It's wonderful."
The museum is set to open at its new location in fall of 2011.