Open House Chicago 2015 :: Edgewater


One of my favorite weekends of the year is the 48 hours in October when distinctive buildings, architectural icons, historic gems, and forgotten pockets of Chicago throw open their doors for Open House Chicago. This year I had limited time so I made the most of it with strategic stops in Edgewater on Saturday and downtown Chicago on Sunday. Here are some of Day One’s highlights.


Episcopal Church of the Atonement
Kenmore Avenue
Henry Ives Cobb architect, 1890

We stopped here spontaneously, as we were walking down Kenmore on our way to the Edgewater Beach Apartments. The sudden surprise of this building and its amazing interior made this visit all the more delightful. A friendly and knowledgable parishioner greeted us and gave us a history of the building, the community, and the neighborhood.


Apparently the big draw at this church is the columbarium, but I was much more interested in the impressive pipe organ.


I'd never seen this sort of configuration, with pipes for trumpets and horns projecting horizontally out of a side alcove.
I’d never seen this sort of configuration, with pipes for trumpets and horns projecting horizontally out of a side alcove.


The Edgewater Beach Apartments
Marshall & Fox, 1928

After passing by this iconic fixture at the end of Lake Shore Drive about a million times, it was fun to get a glimpse inside. The swimming pool used to have a retractable roof and a restaurant on the terrace overlooking the pool. And of course, through those windows there once was a view of Lake Michigan and the beach, which used to come right up to the building–and gave the place its name–before the extension of Lake Shore Drive in 1957 cut the “Pink Palace” off from direct access to the lakeshore.


Please note the maximum bather load.

Riviera Motor Sales Company Building (1925)

Final stop of the day was another building I’ve been past hundreds of times. The bank that previously occupied this space has recently vacated and the empty place definitely conjures up its former life as a high-end Chrysler showroom. Aren’t you whisked away to the Italian Riviera? But seriously, the place must have looked impressive, stocked with dapper cars like these.



The ceiling and light fixtures are really something and still look good. The interior space had lots of crazy touches, like wall fountains in nearly every room and disquieting doors that looked as if made of softened chocolate fudge.

A water fountain serves as the focal point for the main stairway leading to offices.
The vestiges of the bank were eerie and sad.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s