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Wicker Park, Bucktown, West Town

Tour Century-Old Churches, ‘Poop Fountain’ Creator’s Studio This Weekend At Open House Chicago

Josephinum Academy of the Sacred Heart school is one of more than a dozen West Town and Ukrainian Village sites participating in Open House Chicago.

St. Helen Roman Catholic Church is one of many spots architecture buffs can tour this weekend.
Eric Allix Rogers
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WEST TOWN — Hundreds of buildings across the city and more than a dozen in Ukrainian Village, West Town and Wicker Park will be open to the public this weekend as part of the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s Open House Chicago. 

The free tours will offer a wide range of experiences, including exploring Ukrainian Village churches, a West Town concrete factory and the East Village art studio of Jerzy Kenar, locally known as the creator of the eye-catching “poop fountain.”

Wicker Park’s Josephinum Academy of the Sacred Heart, 1501 N. Oakley Blvd., will be participating in the Open House for the first time, offering tours from 9 a.m.- 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The all girls Catholic school’s Modernist building was designed by architect Michael Gaul in 1959 after replacing an original wooden building that dated to the 1890s, according to Open House Chicago. 

Credit: Eric Allix Rogers
Inside Wicker Park’s Josephinum Academy of the Sacred Heart.

During the tour, visitors can check out a cafeteria with floor-to-ceiling glass block walls and a unique library with geometric lass windows. The school’s new softball field was built on parts of the old building’s foundation. 

Credit: Eric Allix Rogers
Tour Prairie Material’s concrete Yard #32 on Sunday.

For fans of construction, the VCNA Prairie Metal Concrete Plant at 835 N. Peoria St. will offer tours on Sunday only, from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.  According to the Open House Chicago website,  Yard #32 has been providing the concrete that builds Chicago for more than 60 years and the high-strength concrete made in the yard can bear loads in excess of 16,000 pounds per square inch. Tour attendees can see the material-handling system that allows VCNA Prairie Material to supply the large volumes of concrete needed for making tall buildings.

Here are some of the other highlights:

  • Kenar Studio, 1007 N. Wolcott St., open from 11 a.m. -5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Artist Jerzy Kenar is the creator of the “poop fountain,” and while primarily known for his sculptures and paintings, the studio serves as a showroom for many of Kenar’s completed works and works-in-progress, previewers say.
  • St. Helen Roman Catholic Church, 2300 W. Augusta Blvd., open from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Ever wonder about the giant life-sized bronze statue of Pope St. John Paul II that greets passersby on Augusta Boulevard? The statue is for Polish parish St. Helen, formed in 1913. In the early 1960s the church commissioned its present structure, which blends Art Deco, Modernism and tradition – with a Biblical fish motif, according to Open House Chicago.
  • St. Volodymyr & Olha Ukrainian Catholic Church, 739 N. Oakley Blvd., open from 10 a.m- 5 p.m. Saturday only (not open for tours on Sunday). Completed in 1973, the gold-domed structure which features mosaic, stained-glass windows and a vibrant blue and gold color scheme, is much newer than the other grand churches of Ukrainian Village, according to Open House Chicago. 
  • Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Cathedral, 1121 N. Leavitt St., open from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Saturday and noon-5 p.m. Sunday. This church, one of only two churches designed by Louis Sullivan, a prominent architect of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Recent work has restored the stained glass windows, a chandelier and an interior dome.

Other West Town highlights include St. Stanislaus Kostka Roman Catholic Church, 1327 N. Noble St.; Holy Trinity Church, 1118 N. Noble St., Ukrainian National Museum, 2249 W. Superior St., Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art, 2320 W. Chicago Ave. and Street Level Youth Media Center, 1637 N. Ashland Ave.

For a list of all sites, visit Open House Chicago’s website.