Chicago Landmarks

Wendell Phillips High School

Wendell Phillips High School, 1904     Address: 244 E. Pershing Road
Year Built: 1904
Architect: William Bryce Mundie
Date Designated a Chicago Landmark: May 7, 2003

Main entry detail, 2002, photo by CCL Wendell Phillips High School has been a significant educational center for Chicago's African-American community for more than 80 years, educating many who rose to prominence in the arts and other professions. Built in 1904, the school is a handsome Classical Revival building by prominent Chicago architect William Bryce Mundie. The school was named for Wendell Phillips (1811-1884), the staunch abolitionist who was one of the leading figures in the American anti-slavery movement. Early yearbooks portray a racial mix in the student body, but by 1920 the school had become Chicago's first predominately African-American high school. During this period, the school's winning basketball teams formed the nucleus of a group that later became the Harlem Globetrotters. Numerous noteworthy individuals have attended Wendell Phillips and been inducted in their "Hall of Fame," including well-known alumni such as entertainers Nat "King" Cole and Dinah Washington, businessmen John H. Johnson and George E. Johnson, and Alonzo S. Parham, the first African-American to attend West Point. Maudelle Brown Bousfield, the school's principal from 1939 to 1950, was the first African-American principal of a Chicago public school and was an important civic leader.