For the second straight year, some of the most architecturally significant buildings in Beverly/Morgan Park will be part of a citywide open house that attracts thousands of people and offers a behind-the-scenes look at historic structures.
Open House Chicago, hosted by the Chicago Architecture Center (CAC) Oct. 19-20, will feature 11 local sites.
The event will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days, with hours varying at each site. Admission is free at most locations, but a $6 charge applies at some sites.
Beverly/Morgan Park was featured in Open House Chicago for the first time last year, and officials from the Beverly Area Planning Association (BAPA), a community partner for the event, said 3,000 people visited.
The key this year, according to BAPA Executive Director Susan Flood, is getting participants to visit again after they’ve toured the neighborhood.
“[BAPA Assistant Director Grace Kuikman] has a great approach: we want to brag about everything that’s going on here,” Flood said. “Open House is bringing them here, and we want to bring them back.”
Over 350 sites in 38 Chicago neighborhoods will be open this year, an increase from about 250 last year. More local sites are also featured, as eight were highlighted last year.
More local churches are included this year, and most sites are located between Western Avenue and Longwood Drive, as organizers wanted to keep the route easily accessible.
Returning locations include the Givins Castle, 10244 S. Longwood Dr., built in the 1870s and home of the Beverly Unitarian Church. Known as Chicago’s only castle, it was the third-most popular attraction at last year’s event.
The Ingersoll-Blackwelder House, 10910 S. Prospect Ave., which was built in 1874 and features both Victorian and Queen Anne style elements, will also be open again, and a TV show pilot produced at the house last year by Fresh Films, of Rock Island, will be screened on the evening of Oct. 19.
Among the new locations will be Christ the King Roman Catholic Church, 9235 S. Hamilton Ave., which was completed in 1955 and features limestone block and gridded windows. A mural of the Last Supper is displayed on the ceiling near the altar.
Many local sites are over a century old, but Christ the King offers a modern theme.
“It’s a nice contemporary building,” Kuikman said. “The inside of that sanctuary is, to me, endlessly fascinating because of the building materials.”
Other local participants include Wild Blossom Meadery and Winery, located in a repurposed industrial building just outside Beverly at 9030 S. Hermitage Ave.; the Beverly Hills Tennis Club, 9121 S. Hamilton Ave., featuring a clubhouse and eight tennis courts, which celebrated its 100th anniversary this summer; the John H. Vanderpoel Art Association Museum, located in the Ridge Park Cultural Center, 9625 S. Longwood Dr., featuring 19th- and 20th-century paintings and sculptures; Trinity United Methodist Church, 9848 S. Winchester Ave., which was built in 1924 and features a Gothic-style sanctuary; and the Ridge Historical Society, located in the Graver-Driscoll House, 10621 S. Seeley Ave., which was designed in 1922 in the Tudor Revival style.
In Morgan Park, sites include Morgan Park Presbyterian Church, 2017 W. 110th Pl., which features Tudor Gothic elements and was built after a 1933 fire at its previous location; Morgan Park Academy Alumni Hall, 2153 W. 111th St., which is a neo-Gothic building and includes the school’s dining hall and library; and Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Mission, 11652 S. Church St., which was dedicated as a church in 1904 and was originally a wooden structure before parishioners installed Purington bricks.
Last year, Flood said, she was dining on the North Side after the tour and was pleasantly surprised to hear another patron remark that he wasn’t sure if he was hungry because he had eaten lunch during the tour at Top Notch Beefburgers in Beverly.
Visitors to Open House Chicago, Kuikman said, usually end up wanting to know more about Beverly/Morgan Park.
“I had people last year asking me, ‘So, how much do these houses go for?’—and young people who had babies in strollers,” Kuikman said. “They were fascinated to know that we have a train station every four blocks. … Truly, people were fascinated because it was their first time visiting here.
“And then there were people from other neighborhoods nearby who have driven through or driven by but never came through into the meaty parts of the neighborhood.”
Another community partner for Open House Chicago is the office of 19th Ward Ald. Matt O’Shea.
Photography is allowed at most locations, although visitors should check with volunteers.
BAPA officials are also producing a visitors guide that will be available at each location and provide a route map, real estate information, neighborhood history and a calendar of events.
The first Open House Chicago was held in 2011. Flood and Kuikman credited Marcie Walsh and the late Mary Quinn Olsson, former BAPA officials, for leading the effort to include Beverly/Morgan Park.
Flood encouraged local residents to “take advantage of this opportunity to see places that they may have never been in before” and “hear stories they wouldn’t hear otherwise.”
Taking the tour, Kuikman said, allows local residents to be “swept into the community pride” that comes from overhearing visitors praise the neighborhood.
“Eavesdropping,” Kuikman said, “could be the best part of being on this tour.”
Volunteers are still needed for local sites. For more information, contact BAPA at (773) 233-3100 or visit the website at bapa.org.
For a list of hours at Open House Chicago locations, visit openhousechicago.org.