Nestled in the Landmark Prairie Avenue Historic District, the facility at 1801 to 1809 S. Indiana Avenue was built in 1926 as a cold storage facility for Swiss Food Products. The facility was designed in an Art Deco style by Hyland & Corse Architects.
In 1979, in recognition of potential redevelopment opportunities, the facility was included in the footprint of the newly created Landmark Prairie Avenue Historic District.
Fast forward to the 1990's, some 70 years later, the vacant 3 story building was gifted by the City of Chicago to the Vietnam Veteran's Art Group. With additional Tax Incremental Finance (TIF) funds for redevelopment and restoration, the building was reopened as the National Vietnam Veterans Art Museum (NVVAM), in 1996.
In 2009, the City of Chicago re-purchased the building back to create a community Park District facility focused on art, culture, education, and fitness. Phase I of the restoration, completed in 2010, focused on redevelopment of the first floor and addressing general building conditions, including:
Under the City Partner in Arts program, the NVVAM organization was relocated to the 3rd floor.
- An indoor kids play area with a multi-level play surface and climbing wall
- Two new community rooms, and day care support facilities
- New Bathrooms and front desk entry area
- Building Inspection, Roof Repairs, and building tuck-pointing
In 2013 The NVVAM organization moved out of the building to their new home at 4041 N. Milwaukee Avenue and Kids Science Lab moved into the 3rd floor adding a valuable asset to the community. The 2nd floor was rennovated to add dance and fitness calss rooms more restroom facilities and additional classrooms/clubrooms.