Alexandra Lange
Architecture & design critic

The Interior Lives of Black Homes

Helen C. Maybell Anglin outside her home in the Chatham Park neighborhood in Chicago, circa 1974.

Helen C. Maybell Anglin, the self-described “soul queen of southern cuisine,” is posed on the steps of her fieldstone house on the South Side of Chicago, swathed in black mink. It is 1974, and the house, which she commissioned in 1965 from the architect Milton M. Schwartz, is as bold and glamorous as its statuesque owner, with a recessed portico, double entrance doors and a skylighted, shag-carpeted living room that’s big enough to dwarf her white baby grand piano.

Ms. Maybell Anglin died in 2009, and the house remained under family ownership until last year. Bertina Power, an author and real estate broker, was asked to give her professional opinion to someone who wanted to rehab and sell it.

“I was like, ‘I’m going to buy it,’” she said. “I have been going in and out of million-dollar houses for years and nothing moved me like this house did. I didn’t know why.”

Ms. Power is, like Ms. Maybell Anglin, a Black woman and entrepreneur just under six feet, and she has come to believe her ownership was fate. While Ms. Power did not know her new home’s history until after she stepped inside, it seems unlikely that such a house could fly under the radar now.