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Visit to shuttered Chicago school shows all that’s left behind

Tour of the 95-year-old building shows what Chicago is salvaging — and leaving behind.

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Tonia Richmond, a 1988 graduate of Nathaniel Pope Elementary School, organized an August reunion inside the building after hearing it would close. She worries it could end up housing a charter school or condominiums.

Tonia Richmond, a 1988 graduate of Nathaniel Pope Elementary School, organized an August reunion inside the building after hearing it would close. She worries it could end up housing a charter school or condominiums.

WBEZ/Chip Mitchell

A massive Chicago schools consolidation is leaving dozens of buildings vacant and relocating thousands of students. The policy is also affecting former students, even some who have not stepped foot in their alma mater for decades. When alumni of a West Side grammar school heard it was closing forever, they decided to hold a reunion inside.

WBEZ stopped by and, as you can hear in this audio piece (above), we found a community that cares deeply about what might happen to its former school. After the reunion, we got to take an unescorted walk through the building. We took photos (below) that provide a glimpse of the district’s salvage efforts — and what could get left behind.

Chip Mitchell is WBEZ’s West Side bureau reporter. Follow him on Twitter @ChipMitchell1 and @WBEZoutloud, and connect with him through Facebook and LinkedIn.

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