WICKER PARK — Historical Wicker Park and Ukrainian Village landmarks are opening their doors to the public this weekend for the latest iteration of Open House Chicago.
The Chicago Architecture Center’s annual festival returns this year after going virtual in 2020. The weekend-long event features seven sites in Wicker Park and Ukrainian Village, as well as a self-guided tour of Beer Baron Row.
“Although we have about 115 sites this year, just a fraction of what we used to have, it’s much more curated,” said Ian Spula, content manager for the architecture center. “I feel like there’s something in every neighborhood that’s really going to grab people.”
Last year, the architecture center launched an app with outdoor COVID-friendly “trails” — self-guided tours users could take of neighborhood homes and other notable buildings.
The app is back this year, and it includes a tour of Beer Baron Row in Wicker Park — a series of historical mansions on Hoyne and Pierce avenues once home to brewers and other successful merchants in the late 19th century.
Many of the opulent homes were built in the years after the Great Fire of 1871 and have since been restored.
“It was a relocation of some of the city’s upwardly mobile immigrants, basically, first-generation immigrants who had really struck it big in business who wanted find full, large lots at a good price, and were basically moving away from the burn zone in downtown Chicago,” Spula said.
The tour also features a series of churches across the larger West Town area, including St. Stanislaus Kostka Catholic Church along to the Kennedy Expressway. The highway route was famously redrawn after the original path would have destroyed the church.
“The current structure almost bit the dust with the construction of the Kennedy, but the clout of the Polish-American community was able to stop that,” Spula said.
Farther west in Ukrainian Village, the Ukrainian National Museum and Sts. Volodymyr and Olha Ukrainian Catholic Parish will also be open for tours.
The festival also features Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church, the only remaining house of worship designed by famed Chicago architect Louis Sullivan.
The site recently underwent an extensive exterior restoration to replace cracked stucco walls, refurbish extensive metal ornamentation and install new windows.
Open House Chicago runs 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, although hours vary at some sites. The festival’s app will be available through Oct. 31.
Subscribe to Block Club Chicago, an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods.