Part 3: Open House Chicago

The past two days, I’ve talked about the places I went to for the Open House Chicago. Now, I’m going to end with the last four places in Streeterville/Gold Coast.

After visiting the Elk National Memorial and the National Shrine of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, I stopped in Second Church of Christ, Scientist. The main church is on the second level. It doesn’t have a lot of decorations, especially after the Ukrainian and Russian churches from Saturday. But it did have a wonderful golden dome.

As a member of the Chicago Architecture Foundation, I had access to three sites that required reservation. I decided that I was most curious about the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Chicago. The house is situated on Lake Shore Drive and it is apparently one of seven remaining mansions in the area. I had to sign up beforehand for a designated time. So on Sunday, I made my way there. It was well worth the stop. We were given a little tour of the residence. I learned that this was the second year that the house was open for Open House. Also, the Consulate is the only one that opens itself to Open House because of the mansion.

It is a beautiful house that shows a lot of pride in the history and culture of Poland. My impression of the house was that it had large well light rooms. The rooms may not be full of furniture or art but what is displayed was very tastefully chosen. One room had a magnificent wooden fireplace, while another room had paintings by Polish painters on loan from the Polish Museum of America. Upstairs in front of the library, there was a copy of Poland’s Constitution. Throughout the house, there were amazing textiles hanging on the walls, which were really pretty. We got to peek into the office of the Consul General, which was cool.

Polish Consul General's office
Polish Consul General’s office

Then I ran up to Warwick Allerton Hotel to see the Tip Top Tap room on one of the top floors of the hotel. Again, that priority card was handy. When I got there, they had actually closed the general public line since it was close to the end of the day. I got to bypass it and check it out. It’s a beautiful space with white and black carpeting and wall decorations. It has some neat views of Michigan Avenue. I got some good pics of the old neon sign that is still on the side of the building. It was a nice space; it’d be neat if they make it into a bar again. They had an old menu that had a list of cocktails, including Scarlett O’Hara. That drink was made from Southern Comfort, grenadine, and lime.

Tip Top Tap Sign
Tip Top Tap Sign

Next was the Tribune Tower lobby. Even though I’ve worked nearby for over two years, it never occurred to me to go into the lobby. It really looks a lot like a church in there, which was intentional. There are some beautiful wooden carvings that may depict Aesop’s Fables. Giant quotations line the walls (including two from Colonel McCormick himself) about the power and responsibility of journalism. There was also a map of the US over the guard’s desk that was partially made from old currency (something about giving structure to the paste). Very interesting. Well worth a peak if you can get in there during other times.

Map in the Tribune Lobby
Map in the Tribune Lobby

My final stop was the Lake Point Tower park. This was my other favorite site of Open House. Lake Point Tower is that building on the other side of Lake Shore Drive; it’s close to Navy Pier. There is a secret garden on the third floor! It’s designed by Alfred Caudwell who also designed the pond next to the Lincoln Park Zoo. The park was a real gem. There is a wonderful pond with a waterfall. All around me were trees festooned in golds, reds, and yellows. It was an oasis next to Lake Shore Drive. What a wonderful place!

Lake Tower Point pond
Lake Tower Point pond

So that’s all for now! To recap, my three favorite new sites were St. Volodymyr and Olha Ukrainian Catholic Church, Elks National Memorial, and the Lake Point Tower.

Until Open House 2015.


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