Arson investigation underway after fire breaks out at Bronzeville's historic Swift Mansion: police

ByMaher Kawash and ABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Monday, December 4, 2023
Arson investigation underway after fire at Swift Mansion: CPD
An arson investigation is underway after a Swift Mansion fire broke out at 4500 South Michigan Avenue in Bronzeville, Chicago police said.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A strong smell of smoke lingered hours after firefighters put out a South Side fire.

There had been some construction going on recently at the historic Swift Mansion, and Sunday's fire caused some significant damage. We don't know how it started, but police said this is now an arson investigation.

The Chicago Fire Department said initial reports indicated there were two people inside when the fire broke out on the third floor of the building in the 4500 block of South Michigan Avenue around noon, but once crews arrived, nobody was there.

The building is known as a staple of the Bronzeville community. It was built back in 1892.

Ward Miller with Preservation Chicago said it's sad to see this damage, because there's so much history within the mansion.

"It was built by Gustavus Swift of the Swift Meatpacking Company, as a gift to his daughter and future son-in-law. The son-in-law eventually brought together Swift and Company and Armour and Company to make Chicago and those two companies a true force," Miller said.

On Sunday, the Red Cross was on scene, helping some people who may have been inside or near the building at the time. Crews had to return multiple times to manage hot spots.

The Swift Mansion was believed to be vacant as construction has been going on. Preservation Chicago is hoping those renovations can continue so the building can be salvaged from the fire.

"This building is a cornerstone of the Bronzeville community. It's so important to the history of the Urban League. It's so important the history of meatpacking in Chicago. It's on so many different levels. This building needs to be reconstructed. It needs a patron saint to come forward, and to make those repairs," Miller said.

Thankfully, no one was hurt in the fire. Police are still investigating, and no one has been arrested.