Sale of Old Town School of Folk Music building sparks controversy

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Old Town School of Folk Music students and teachers are questioning a decision to sell the school's historic building in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood.

On Saturday, a crowd singing and playing guitars and violins spilled into the street to support the building, which for over 50 years has been located at 909 W. Armitage

Two weeks ago, administrators announced they would sell the building, something they said would help the school.

"We were totally blindsided. We had no idea this was coming," said music teacher Lindsay Weinberg.

"It's been a really special part of my life during a somewhat difficult transition. Health, divorce, things like that. I take private lessons here," said student Rebecca Miller-Webster.

The school, which has a second campus in Lincoln Square, serves over 13,000 young and adult students.

Long-time student Richard Gordon started an online petition to stop the move which has already garnered over 6,500 signatures.

"It's a beautiful and important part of our heritage in the city and part of all of us," Gordon said. "The fundamental problem the school has is that fewer people are taking classes."

The school's administration said the decision to sell the historic building has been discussed for several years and is meant to ensure the school's future. They insist they will continue elsewhere in Lincoln Park.

"The community is the people and not the building, but it's a community that grew here over time," Weinberg said. "You can't just assume it's automatically going to happen somewhere else."

There is no timetable for the closure which is tied to how long it takes to sell the building.
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