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Found Photos: Valley Project 1971, Part One

By Kevin Robinson in Miscellaneous on Feb 9, 2011 5:00PM

Mike Fourcher, former Chicagoisto and publisher of the Center Square Journal and the Roscoe View Journal, shared with us some of the photos his father took of the neighborhood that once stood where the Illinois Medical District is now. Taken as part of a project sponsored by University of Illinois-Chicago's Valley Project, which included a health clinic, Lou Fourcher's photography of Chicago's near West side is more than a glimpse into a part of the city that no longer exists. They're a look at a specific time and place in our city's history, as well.

Scanned from the original film prints, Mike tells us that his father was 28 when they were shot. Originally from New Bedford, Mass, Lou Fourcher was a University of Chicago Ph.D. psychology student, "and a fish out of water in this neighborhood. He told me many times that he got most of the pictures because he managed to talk a local gang leader into walking him around.

"I think the work he did at the clinic, the Valley Project, was an inspiration for him, since he later went on to run non-profit health centers, like Erie Family Health Center in Humboldt Park and New City Health Center in Englewood."

At 67, Lou Fourcher is physically very healthy, but lost to Alzheimer's. "A few of the pictures he framed and always kept in his house. A couple are on the wall of his room now. The nursing home staff don't really understand why he has pictures of all these black kids - most folks just have family. But my dad loves the pictures and still lights up when looking at them." Unfortunately, Mike doesn't know much about the pictures or the project that they contributed to. Mike is asking that if anyone has any information on the pictures or the project, that they contact him.