Welcome to the web site for the
Historic Palm Tavern,
Chicago, Illinois, USA!
The Palm Tavern was opened in 1933 by James "Genial Jim" Knight, the first Mayor of Bronzeville.
In 1956, upon his retirement, James Knight transfered ownership to Geraldine "Mama Gerri" Oliver, who proudly operated the
Palm Tavern until July 3, 2001.
Chicago Tribune art critic Howard Reich says, "It would be difficult to overestimate
the room's role in nurturing black musical culture in Chicago and beyond. This was the place where ideas were exchanged, tunes
discussed and collaborations conceived."
Over the decades, the Palm Tavern was an unofficial clubhouse -- the place
to stop and rest and recharge psychic batteries -- for generations of African-American musicians, including Duke Ellington,
James Brown, Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie, Quincy Jones, Willie Dixon and Muddy Waters.
Sadly, on July 3, 2001, the
City of Chicago closed the Palm Tavern and forceably evicted Mama Gerri Oliver who had operated her historic establishment
for 45 years. Using its power of Eminent Domain, the City grabbed possession of the Palm Tavern only to padlock its doors
and board-up its windows. The Letter to the Mayor and the Alderman, which appears below, did not achieve its goal.
is always hope that the City will make good on its assurances to restore the Palm Tavern.
In 2004, the Landmark Preservation Council of Illinois (LPCI) recognized the Palm Tavern in
its List of the Ten Most Endangered Historical Places in Illinois. See the LPCI website at:
As you visit the site, enjoy the memories and take any action that you can to encourage the City
to restore and preserve this last authentic piece of the golden age of Bronzeville.