Old Town School of Folk Music

4544 N Lincoln Ave Chicago

Lincoln Square/Old Town School of Folk Music
Chicago Scene
Written By Chicago Scene

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The burst in popularity of folk music led to the opening of the Old Town School of Folk Music at the end of 1957 in Melrose Park. At that time, the classes and other activities in the school’s facilities experienced rapid growth. The school even hosted well-known artists of the day for concerts, like Pete Seeger and Mahalia Jackson.

Through the 1960s, the music education continued and the school’s growth mirrored the movements that were reviving folk music. The Old Town School of Folk Music even gave a few artists their starts, for example, Roger McGuinn from The Byrds. In 1968, the school moved from its first location to a larger building in Lincoln Park. In the years to come, the school was the biggest it had ever been but enrollment started a steady decline into and through the ‘80s, leaving the school nearly bankrupt. It took a complete renovation of the school, which won them a Beatrice Foundation Award for Excellence, to get back on their feet.

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The ‘90s saw things turning around but the school needed more space. At the same time that discussion of branching out started, Chicago contacted Old Town School of Folk Music about an open 43,000 square foot building in Lincoln Square, selecting them as the recipient they most wanted to take the opening. They have since made the former Hild Library where they hold their programming but have their educational endeavors at the Lincoln Park location. The Old Town School of Folk Music still hosts concerts by international artists, local artists, and its staff and students on a weekly basis. Wednesdays are known as World Music Wednesdays and host free concerts for anyone to enjoy. They truly believe and uphold the notion that music is for everyone.

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