This month, the Chicago Architecture Center is proud to host Open House Chicago — a free public festival that offers self-guided history and architecture trails throughout Chicago, talks and programming, and behind-the-scenes access to architecturally, historically and culturally significant sites across the city.
This year’s festival, which features more than 100 sites across the city including three in Austin – will build on the success of the 2020 mobile app to bring expanded content directly to your mobile phone.
Sites are open at the times listed throughout the weekend of Oct. 16 and 17, and entry is free unless otherwise noted.
The three Austin sites are:
Austin Community Family Center, 501 N. Central Ave. (10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 16, and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 17). This non-profit community center shares the building with an SRO and a homeless shelter. Truly mixed-use, the upper floors offer affordable housing as another key community resource. The building was a former YMCA built in 1923 and vacated in 2012. The center collaborates with community partners to offer social services, recreation and cultural programs geared toward local adults and youth in trying to maintain some of the former tradition of the YMCA. This includes a community computer lab, two basketball gyms, fitness facilities and meeting rooms.
St. Martin’s Episcopal Church, 5700 W. Midway Park (10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 16, and 1 to 5 p.m. Oct. 17; enter via courtyard between the church and the rectory). Founded in 1878, St. Martin’s is the last of seven Episcopal parishes that once served the area. The church was built in the 1910s in an English Gothic style with some Arts and Crafts influences and distinctive windows set into the roof. In 2000, a renovation of the worship space resulted in chairs replacing pews, and the addition of an altar and ambo. The church rectory is being renovated to create a space for art classes and cultural events. The rectory has been vacant and largely unused for several years and needs to be brought up to code with new plumbing, electrical work and accessibility features.
Kehrein Center for the Arts, 5628 W. Washington Blvd. (10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 16, and 1 to 5 p.m. Oct. 17). Constructed in 1954, this long-shuttered auditorium is a great representation of Mid-Century Modern style. It features poured-in-place concrete with curving walls and spaces that interlock with the library and courtyard of the attached school. The school opened at the turn of the 20th Century as St. Catherine’s Academy and later became Siena High School. It shuttered in 1977 and remained vacant until 2008, when a charter school, Catalyst Circle Rock, began renovating the classrooms; the complex is also home to a church and Circle Rock Ministries. Now, a $5 million renovation of the Belli & Belli designed auditorium is complete. The restored space seats 850 people and has all the components necessary to function as a multi-use performance space, including theatrical lighting, audio visual systems and acoustical panels to improve the projection of sound.
When visiting, please follow Illinois Department of Public Health guidelines. Individual sites may have additional requirements for entry, such as proof of vaccination, a negative COVID-19 test or other measures.