22 buildings to see during Open House Chicago

We've picked one must-see building in every Open House Chicago neighborhood, from Englewood to Evanston
Yale Building
Photograph: Eric Allix Rogers
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In a city filled with beautiful buildings, it can be difficult to figure out what you absolutely must see during Open House Chicago (October 14 and 15). With more than 250 sites offering tours throughout the weekend, we've combed through the list and narrowed it down to one can't-miss building in each neighborhood. Follow our lead and you'll explore vintage theaters, ornate ballrooms, former bread factories and one of Chicago's most secret bars. Get inspired and embrace your curiosity, because you only get this kind of behind-the-scenes access during one weekend each year.

RECOMMENDED: Learn even more about Open House Chicago

All photos courtesy the Chicago Architecture Foundation and Eric Allix Rogers

What to see during Open House Chicago

Congress Theater
Photograph: Eric Allix Rogers

Congress Theater

Logan Square, 2135 N Milwaukee Ave
Originally opened as a movie theater before being converted to a live music venue, the Congress Theater has been closed to the public since 2013. Over the past few years, the owner of the property has been slowly restoring the historic building, with the goal of bringing the Classical Revival and Italian Renaissance design back to its former glory. Open House visitors will get a peek at the progress in the lobby and auditorium.
Sat, Oct 14: 11am–5pm; Sun, Oct 15: Closed

Yale Building
Photograph: Eric Allix Rogers

Yale Building

Englewood, 6565 S Yale Ave
During the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893, the Yale Building provided luxurious accommodations for visitors. The seven-story building was restored in 2003 and converted into a senior living facility. The building's bright yellow, vine-covered atrium is sure to be one of the most-Instagrammed spots during this year's Open House.
Sat, Oct 14: 10am–4pm; Sun, Oct 15: 10am–4pm

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Powhatan
Photograph: Eric Allix Rogers

Powhatan

Hyde Park, 4950 S Chicago Beach Dr
One of the most colorfully decorated apartment buildings in all of Chicago, Powhatan sports Art Deco mosaics on its exterior, lobbies and swimming pool. You'll want to snap a photo inside of the building's original elevators, which are decorated with luxurious wood accents, aluminum paneling and etched mirrors.
Sat, Oct 14: 9am–5pm; Sun, Oct 15: 9am–5pm

Millennium Knickerbocker Hotel
Photograph: Eric Allix Rogers

Millennium Knickerbocker Hotel

Gold Coast, 163 E Walton Pl
You can't visit the ballroom featured in Disney's Beauty and the Beast, but the ornate Crystal Ballroom in the Millennium Knickerbocker Hotel seems like the closest real-world approximation. At one point owned by Hugh Hefner and operated as the Playboy Hotel, this lavish space features illuminated dance floors and some truly stunning chandeliers.
Sat, Oct 14: Closed; Sun, Oct 15: 10am–4pm

 

 

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Sts. Volodymyr & Olha Ukrainian Catholic Church
Photograph: Eric Allix Rogers

Sts. Volodymyr & Olha Ukrainian Catholic Church

Ukrainian Village, 739 N Oakley Blvd
You've probably never been inside a place of worship as brightly-colored as this Catholic church in Ukrainian Village. Inspired by the designs of 13th-century Byzantine-Ukrainian churches, visitors will be able to admire vibrant stained glass windows, vivid murals and an ornate golden altar.
Sat, Oct 14: 10am–5pm; Sun, Oct 15: Closed

Zap Props
Photograph: Eric Allix Rogers

Zap Props

Bridgeport, 3611 S Loomis Pl
Wanna see where TV shows and movies get some of the cool stuff you see in the background? This 36,000-square-foot warehouse is filled with unexpected objects, ranging from vintage beer bottles to artificial foliage. Zap Props isn't usually open to the public, but the business makes an exception to that rule each year when Open House rolls around.
Sat, Oct 14: 9am–5pm; Sun, Oct 15: 9am–5pm

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Bahai Temple
Photograph: Eric Allix Rogers

Bahá’í House of Worship

Evanston, 100 Linden Ave
This striking place of worship for the Bahá'í Faith is open to the public year-round, but Open House is a great excuse to finally make the trip to Evanston to see it. The ornate, cast concrete structure took years to complete and is meant to echo the architectural styles of religious buildings from around the world.
Sat, Oct 14: 9am–5pm; Sun, Oct 15: 9am–5pm 

Pleasant Home
Photograph: Eric Allix Rogers

Pleasant Home

Oak Park, 217 Home Ave
Prairie Style homes aren't unusual in Oak Park, but the Pleasant Home is a particularly impressive example of the architectural style. Built by George Maher, the 30-room house features carved wood, stained glass and other intricate design elements that set it apart from other mansions in the area.
Sat, Oct 14: 9am–5pm; Sun, Oct 15: 9am–5pm

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150 North Riverside
Photograph: Eric Allix Rogers

150 North Riverside

Downtown, 150 N Riverside Plaza
One of the newest skyscrapers to join the Chicago skyline, 150 North Riverside is a striking building (thanks to its tapered, core-supported design) that also boasts some amazing views of the Chicago River. Visitors will be able to take in the lobby's expansive video screen installation and head for the not-yet-leased 26th floor.
Sat, Oct 14: 9am–5pm; Sun, Oct 15: 9am–5pm

Nichols Tower
Photograph: Eric Allix Rogers

Nichols Tower

North Lawndale, 906 S Homan Ave
While the naming rights to Chicago's best-known Sears Tower have since changed, there's still a 14-story building in Homan Square that bears the name of the famous merchant. Once a part of the Sears, Roebuck & Co. warehouse, the tower was restored in 2016 and converted into a community center and event space. 
Sat, Oct 14: 11am–4pm; Sun, Oct 15: Closed

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Half Acre Balmoral
Photograph: Eric Allix Rogers

Half Acre Balmoral

Bowmanville, 2050 W Balmoral Ave
Half Acre's new Bowmanville brewery and taproom recently opened to the public, but there's a good chance you haven't made your way there yet. During Open House, you'll get to see where the majority of the brewery's beer is made and sample a few adult beverages while you're there.
Sat, Oct 14: 1–5pm; Sun, Oct 15: Closed

Wintrust Arena
Photograph: Eric Allix Rogers

Wintrust Arena

South Loop, 200 E Cermak Rd
Before the DePaul Blue Demons and Bob Dylan break in this brand new space, check out Chicago's latest arena during Open House. With room for more than 10,000 people, this expansive building seems primed to transform the area surrounding McCormick Place into an entertainment hub.
Sat, Oct 14: 10:30am–4pm; Sun, Oct 15: Closed

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The Robey
Photograph: Erik Allix Rogers

The Robey

Wicker Park, 2018 W North Ave
Still haven't made it atop the Robey hotel in Wicker Park yet? During Open House, visitors will have access to the Up & Up rooftop bar in this Art Deco building that dates back to 1929. Make sure to take a look at the restored lobby and ground floor restaurant before you check out.
Sat, Oct 14: 9am–3pm; Sun, Oct 15: 9am–1pm

Photograph: Courtesy of The Old Chicago Inn

Old Chicago Inn

Lakeview, 3222 N Sheffield Ave
You've probably walked by this charming greystone bed and breakfast, which features 1920s decor like a Victrola and vintage photos. You might have also heard about the password-protected cocktail lounge the building houses, called Room 13. Open House visitors can take a peek inside the secretive speakeasy as long as they have the weekend's password (we heard that it's "World Series").
Sat, Oct 14: 9am–5pm; Sun, Oct 15: 9am–5pm

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Schluze Baking Company Building
Photograph: Eric Allix Rogers

Schulze Baking Company Building

Bronzeville, 40 E Garfield Blvd
The Schluze Baking Company was once famous for its Butternut Bread (which was later acquired by Hostess), and much of it was baked in this elaborate building, which features some impressive terra cotta on its exterior. Visitors will be able to sneak inside the expansive building, which has been vacant for the past few years, and learn about its upcoming transformation into a data center.
Sat, Oct 14: 9am–5pm; Sun, Oct 15: 9am–5pm

Chicago Filmmakers Firehouse
Photograph: Eric Allix Rogers

Chicago Filmmakers Firehouse

Edgewater, 5720 N Ridge Ave
Built in 1928, this small Edgewater firehouse was recently purchased by the local organization Chicago Filmmakers, which is raising funds to install a small movie theater in the property. During Open House, guests will get a look inside the refurbished building and learn more about the new owners' plans for the historic structure.
Sat, Oct 14: 9am–5pm; Sun, Oct 15: 9am–5pm

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Brewster Building
Photograph: Caroline Nye Stevens

Brewster Building

Lincoln Park, 2800 N. Pine Grove Ave
Featured in films like Child's Play and Running Scared, the Brewster Building is much like the Chicago equivalent of Los Angeles' Bradbury Building—a distinctive space featuring an atrium of crisscrossing stairs and cage elevators. The building still looks much like it did upon completion in 1893, so think of this as your chance to step into a Chicago time machine.
Sat, Oct 14: 9am–5pm; Sun, Oct 15: 9am–5pm

Photograph: John Faier

Chicago Vintage Motor Carriage

Near West Side, 700 S Desplaines St
Head to this garage to check out the vintage automobile collection of Richard H. Driehaus, featuring expertly restored and maintained motor vehicles from the Classic and Post-War eras. Many of the cars are housed in showrooms that highlight period-appropriate decor—you'll want to take plenty of photos while you're snooping around this spot.
Sat, Oct 14: 9am–5pm; Sun, Oct 15: 9am–5pm

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Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas

Héctor Duarte Studio

Pilsen, 1900 W Cullerton St
Easily recognizable by the expansive mural that covers its exterior, local artist Héctor Duarte's studio is equally interesting once you step through the door. Open House guests will be able to take a walk through the space where Duarte works, getting a glimpse at some of his completed pieces and works in progress.
Sat, Oct 14: 9am–5pm; Sun, Oct 15: 9am–5pm

Fort Knox Studios
Photograph: Eric Allix Rogers

Fort Knox Studios

Portage Park, 4245 N Knox Ave
When local bands need to practice or record, many of them head to the world’s largest recording studio building in Portage Park. In addition to rooms where guitarists can work on the "Stairway to Heaven" solo, Fort Knox also houses a co-working space called 2112, which hosts more than 100 startups.
Sat, Oct 14: 10am–4pm; Sun, Oct 15: 10am–4pm

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Avalon Regal Theater
Photograph: Eric Allix Rogers

Avalon Regal Theater

South Shore, 1645 E 79th St
Once a regular stop for jazz musicians like Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington, the Avalon Regal Theater has been mostly unused for more than a decade (though Barack Obama did celebrate his election there in 2008). Open House vistors will be able to step into the golden lobby before entering the 2,500-seat auditorium, which echoes the outdoors-brought-indoors design of the Music Box Theater on a much grander scale.
Sat, Oct 14: 9am–5pm; Sun, Oct 15: 9am–5pm

Photograph: Courtesy FLATS

Lawrence House

Uptown, 1020 W Lawrence Ave
Explore a hidden basement pool, get some coffee in the lobby or lounge on the backyard patio at the Lawrence House, a 1920s apartment building that has been recently restored by FLATS. By the end of your tour of the vintage space, you may be asking for directions to the leasing office.
Sat, Oct 14: 10am–4pm; Sun, Oct 15: 10am–4pm

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