During this month, which is also National Soul Food Month, Landmarks Illinois announced that it has donated the iconic Ebony Test Kitchen from the former Johnson Publishing Company Building in Chicago to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) located in Washington, D.C. The test kitchen will be a part of the museum’s permanent collection.
“Saving the Ebony Test Kitchen has been an extraordinary preservation effort, and one we are proud to be a part of, especially given this incredible result,” says Bonnie McDonald, president and CEO of Landmarks Illinois.
Ebony Test Kitchen Arrives in DC
Telling the story of Johnson Publishing Company, the country’s most influential African American publisher of its time, Landmarks Illinois spent the past five years working to ensure the Ebony Test Kitchen is preserved and celebrated, giving future generations the opportunity to experience it and learn about its important role in Black history and culinary history.
The organization saved the Ebony Test Kitchen that was designed by Palm Springs-based interior designers William Raiser and Arthur Elrod from demolition in 2018 by purchasing it for $1 and with the help of its Skyline Council committee and additional volunteers, documented, dissembled and safely put the kitchen into storage.
With the announcement from the NMAAHC about the acquisition, it noted that said the Ebony Test kitchen would undergo conservation work as it develops new plans for its construction and future use. McDonald says, “We cannot think of a more suitable home for the iconic kitchen than the NMAAHC, which welcomes millions of visitors every year in our nation’s capital. We thank the Smithsonian Institution for its dedication to preserving this pivotal piece of American history.”