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New Field House Named After Secretary of State Jesse White

By Wendell Hutson | October 6, 2013 8:25am
 The Jesse White Fieldhouse is under construction at 412 W. Chicago Ave. and is expected to be completed July 2014.
The Jesse White Fieldhouse
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NEAR NORTH — A new public field house under construction will be the future home of the famous Jesse White Tumblers - and named after its founder, Secretary of State Jesse White.

The Tumblers currently practice at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago and Tuley Park in the West Chesterfield neighborhood on the South Side.

Construction on the Jesse White Field House, 412 W. Chicago Ave., is slated for completion by July 2014, according to White. And upon completion, the $12.8 million field house, which is a partnership between the Jesse White Foundation and the Chicago Park District, would be a park district facility, said Marta Juaniza, spokeswoman for the Chicago Park District.

White said the nearly 30,000-square-foot facility would include a computer room, gymnasium, community room, outdoor basketball court, game room, weight room and a playground.

"There is a need for more facilities like this one all over Chicago to give our kids something to do other than subscribe to 'Sidewalk University' or some other bad element," said White, 79. "The building is easily accessible by public transportation and will provide a safety net for inner-city youth."

White founded the Tumblers in 1959 as a way to provide a positive alternative activity to at-risk youths in the Chicago area.

"We have had 13,500 kids come through the program since its inception and only 116 have had trouble with the law," White said. "We have 53 tumblers in college presently and we put on 1,500 shows a year all over the world from Croatia to China."

He added that he would like to see "more youth centers built in Chicago as soon as possible if we are going to give kids an alternative in life."

Currently there are 325 members on the team, with some as young as 6 years old. Tumblers are allowed to remain on the team after high school if they are in college to help serve as trainers, White said.