Melissia Ann Elam (1853-1941), the daughter of former slaves, was born in Missouri. When she moved to Chicago in 1876, the city had only about 5,000 Black residents. She first became an active member of social clubs for Black women and then of organizations supporting Black Chicagoans.
In the early 1900’s there were many “club homes” in Chicago for White single women who were living far away from their hometowns. There was only one club home for Black single women in Chicago. And so, Elam founded the Elam Club Home for Working Girls in her own South Side home. As the need grew, Elma purchased a South Side mansion to serve as the Elam Club Home. During the 1920’s and 1930’s, up to 35 Black women at any one time called that mansion their home. All of them helped maintain the building and were expected to abide by strict moral standards. In 1979, the home was designated as a Chicago Historical Landmark.
Why this stop? The Green Line 47th Street stop is a 3 minute walk from the Elam House.
Connect—The Elam House is vacant but still stands. You can see it for yourself at 4726 S. Martin Luther King Drive. Photo
Photo - Chicago Landmarks, City of Chicago