Local sites ready for Open House Chicago | Top Story

The John H. Vanderpoel Art Association (VAA) has a lot to celebrate these days.

Not only has the organization re-opened the esteemed Vanderpoel Art Museum in the Ridge Park fieldhouse after a two-year hiatus, but in mid-October, the museum will be one of six local sites that are part of the Chicago Architecture Center’s Open House Chicago.

The museum has participated in Open House Chicago on two other occasions, and VAA President Irene Testa said each time has been a rousing success.

“It’s been fantastic,” Testa said. “We’ve had such a good turnout both times—so many people from so many different parts of our city. I know people are so thrilled—and many didn’t know about us beforehand. It’s been great.”

Open House Chicago, celebrating its 12th year, will be held Oct. 15-16.

According to organizers, over 150 culturally and historically significant sites will be featured in 20 community areas.

Admission is free, with self-guided tours available throughout October.

The Vanderpoel Museum, located on the second floor of the fieldhouse, had been closed while receiving a new paint job—and then COVID-19 struck.

The gallery is named after a 19th-century Dutch-American artist who resided in Beverly. It features an array of paintings and sculptures.

During Open House Chicago, it will feature works by female artists, as well as by local artist Robin Powers, just as it did during the Beverly Art Walk on Sept. 17.

Testa said the art walk was a “big success,” as “quite a lot of people” visited.

The gallery might have to closed again in the near future—but for a good reason. An elevator is being built at the fieldhouse that will allow for easier access to the upper floors.

For now, Testa is happy the VAA has resumed programming. The gallery is open Tuesdays and Thursdays, 1-4 pm, and Saturdays, 10 am-noon.

“It’s wonderful,” Testa said. “People are enjoying the gallery. We’ve started our art classes again.”

Other local sites in Open House Chicago include Wild Blossom Meadery and Winery, 9030 S. Hermitage Ave.; Trinity United Methodist Church, 9848 S. Winchester Ave.; the Givins Castle, 10255 S Seeley Ave.; Nicky’s of Beverly restaurant, 10500 S. Western Ave.; and the Ridge Historical Society, located at the Graver-Driscoll House, 10621 S. Seeley Ave.

Like the VAA, many of them were featured in previous Open House Chicago events.

Wild Blossom, which is just outside Beverly, opened in 2017, with owners Greg and Audrey Fischer developing the first meadery in Illinois and first winery and meadery in Chicago; mead is an alcoholic drink made with honey.

The building was once home to a construction company in the 1950s, and now, it features a production facility and tasting room, with the Fischers also raising honeybees and wildflowers.

Trinity Church features a community house constructed in 1924, a neo-Gothic sanctuary that was completed in 1940 and a Modernist chapel built in 1957.

The Givins Castle, often touted as the only castle in Chicago, was constructed in 1887, overlooking the Blue Island Ridge on Longwood Drive. It is named after Robert C. Givins, a real estate developer who was the first owner. The Beverly Unitarian Church now uses the building.

Nicky’s of Beverly opened at its current location in January 2021, with owner Paul Kostopanagiotou utilizing shipping containers to transform a site that was once home to a small Mexican-food restaurant. He worked with local architect Joe Carroll, of CMMR, LLC.

The Graver-Driscoll House, which has hosted the Ridge Historical Society for 50 years, was designed in 1922 by John H. Hetherington. The brick and stone Tudor Revival-style home, which overlooks the Blue Island Ridge, was built for Herbert Graver, a local homebuilder.

James Driscoll, an electrical contractor, later owned the home.

Beverly/Morgan Park first participated in Open House Chicago in 2018, with the Beverly Area Planning Association working with organizers to have local buildings featured.

Chicago Architecture Center Director of Interpretation Adam Rubin, who lives in the Edgewater neighborhood on the Far North Side, said he visited Beverly for the first time when it was featured in the open house.

This year’s locations, he said, are unique, because visitors can see a little bit of everything.

“It’s an eclectic group of sites,” Rubin said.

Organizers say Open House Chicago is one of the largest architecture festivals in the world.

In a news release, Chicago Architecture Center Operating Officer Juanna Blackwell said she is excited about showcasing so many sites in the city.

“We encourage Chicagoans to immerse themselves in our 2022 featured neighborhoods through free in-person events and self-guided tours,” she said. “I’m grateful to our community partners, volunteers and presenting sponsor, Wintrust, for their support in ensuring Open House 2022 continues to provide special access to our city’s beautiful architecture and neighborhoods.”

All six local sites will be open both days of the tour except for the Givins Castle, which will be open Oct. 15 from 10am-5pm

Nicky’s, the Ridge Historical Society and Wild Blossom will be open Oct. 15-16, from 10am-5pm

Trinity Church will be open Oct. 15 from 10 am-5 pm, then Oct. 16 from 10:30 am-5 pm

The Vanderpoel Art Museum will be open Oct. 15-16 from 10am-3pm

Testa is proud to have such a highly regarded gallery in the neighborhood where Vanderpoel lived.

“It belongs here,” Testa said. “We want to get back to doing more programming. We want to do more concerts—more of everything.”

For more information, visit openhousechicago.org.


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