Open House Chicago 2014: Free Access to Chicago’s Greatest Architectural Gems

Open House Chicago 2014: Free Access to Chicago’s Greatest Architectural Gems
St. Nicholas Church in Ukrainian Village is one of the hidden gems on the tour

The Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF) is holding a giant “Open House” this weekend (October 18 and 19) showcasing more than 150 of the city’s greatest spaces and places from 18 neighborhoods.

Open House Chicago (OHC) is a free public event that gives participants an opportunity to visit a diverse selection of Chicago’s public buildings, factories, historic mansions, private clubs, sacred spaces, schools, professional offices and cultural institutions.

Whether you are an architecture buff, history enthusiast or just looking for a unique weekend festival, OHC is a chance to learn about Chicago architecture and history on a self-guided tour of uncommonly seen and “restricted access” areas of many behind-the-scenes places and spaces that are normally open “by invitation only.”

Even if you think you know Chicago, Open House Chicago is sure to offer some surprises…

  • See the World War I military hospital that became a hotel and lounge that welcomed both African-American and white patrons as early as the 1920’s and hosted big name performers including Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Nancy Wilson.
  • Do you know what Chicago Cathedral was designed by Louis Sullivan—one of only two churches he ever designed? This weekend you can visit it, learn about it and view its unique architecture.
  • Tour the downtown building whose cupola was once the infamous private speakeasy of Al Capone (known as the Stratosphere Lounge)–that boasts a dramatic 360-degree views of the city.
  • See what downtown ballroom is now home to the grand piano originally in Chicago’s Playboy mansion.

To discover these places and more, go to the Open House Chicago website and plan your itinerary. The website lets you select architectural sites by type or neighborhood.

Although Open House hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. October 18th and 19th, check individual venues that you want to visit for times and dates as not all are open for the full run.

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