Since 2011, the Chicago Architecture Center has hosted a unique and free public festival, “one of the largest events of its kind in the world,” according to the event’s website, openhousechicago.org.
The 2021 edition of the Open House Chicago features self-guided tours of 100+ attractions in over 30 neighborhoods, many of which are typically not open to the public. Most are free and open for personal visits on Saturday, October 16 and Sunday, October 17, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Examples of sites in or near Evanston include the Bahai Temple at Wilmette; Creative coworking at 922 Davis St., Evanston; Lang House, 7421 N. Sheridan Road, Chicago; the Tree House Humane Society, 7225 N. Western Ave., Chicago; and Indian Boundary Park Cultural Center at 2500 W. Lunt Ave., Chicago.
A particularly notable location in Evanston is the DMAC Architecture offices at 1229 Emerson St. DMAC offices are located in the Mount Moriah Masonic Temple, a building designed in 1929 by Walter T. Bailey, the first African American architect to be licensed in Illinois .
DMAC architectural offices at Mount Moriah Masonic Temple, 1229 Emerson St., participate in this year’s Open House Chicago Festival. (Photo by Ellen Galland)
According to the Open House Chicgo website, for decades the building was “a center of political, economic, and social activity for Evanston’s African American community”. Visitors touring the offices can see historical elements inside and out and speak to DMAC staff.
In 2020 and this year too, other open house programs had to be virtual. This year’s virtual programs include “In Case You Missed It: New Buildings from Our Pandemic Year” with a jury of architects and designers and “Safeguarding Cultural Heritage in the Face of Urban Change” with discussions with representatives of the Bronzeville Historical Society, the Chinese American Museum of Chicago and the National Hellenic Museum. You can register for these programs on the Open House Chicago website.
There is also an Open House Chicago app on the openhousechicago.org website. In addition to the maps and programs, the app contains content on shopping opportunities, restaurants and other attractions in the various districts in which the sights are located.