What was once an out-of-service power plant on Chicago's West Side today hums with activity, energy and a new purpose as a learning center for the North Lawndale community.
The Homan Square Power House was built in 1905 to provide electricity and heat for the massive Sears, Roebuck & Company world headquarters on Chicago's West Side. The complex was designed by the Chicago architectural firm of Nimmons & Fellows.
Despite its incredible beauty and unique characteristics, and largely hidden from sight nestled behind the massive Sears administration building, the Power House through its disuse became a missing piece of Chicago history.
In 2006, Homan Square and Henry Ford Learning Institute joined forces to begin a new chapter in Power House history. They began by rallying individuals, corporations and philanthropy around a shared vision to create a solid foundation to transform the former Sears power house into a permanent home for Henry Ford Academy: Power House High, and a source of pride for the North Lawndale community.
In August 2009, Power House High opened to 250 9th and 10th grade students at the newly renovated Charles H. Shaw Technology and Learning Center, named after the late developer Charlie Shaw who worked tirelessly on behalf of the community. In August 2012, Power House High honored its first graduates.
The $45 million restoration of the Sears power house blends historic preservation and cutting edge sustainable technologies. Original building features were retained to preserve a connection to the building's past. A geothermal heating and cooling system and other energy efficiency measures helped earn the building certification as a LEED Platinum certified structure.
On June 6, 2015, Power House High graduated its last class of seniors; 100% of graduates were accepted to 2 and 4-year colleges and universities.
Noble Network of Charter Schools' DRW College Prep has replaced Power House High in providing a quality high school program for the North Lawndale community in the Charles H. Shaw Technology and Learning Center.