Since 2011 the Chicago Architecture Center has produced a unique and free public festival, “one of the largest events of its kind in the world,” according to the event’s website,

The 2021 edition of Open House Chicago will feature self-guided tours of more than 100 sites in over 30 neighborhoods, many not typically open to the public. Most are free and open for in-person visits from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 16 and Sunday, Oct. 17.

Examples of sites in or near Evanston include the Bahai Temple in Wilmette; Creative Coworking at 922 Davis St., Evanston; the Lang House at 7421 N. Sheridan Road, Chicago; the Tree House Humane Society at 7225 N. Western Ave., Chicago; and Indian Boundary Park Cultural Center at 2500 W. Lunt Ave., Chicago.

A site of particular note in Evanston is the DMAC Architecture offices at 1229 Emerson St. The DMAC offices are in the Mount Moriah Masonic Temple, a 1929 building designed by Walter T. Bailey, the first African American architect to receive a license in Illinois.

DMAC Architecture offices in the Mount Moriah Masonic Temple, 1229 Emerson St., are participating in this year’s Open House Chicago festival. (Photo by Ellen Galland) Credit: Photo by Ellen Galland

According to the Open House Chicgo website, the building was “a center of political, economic and social activity for Evanston’s African American community” for many decades. Visitors touring the offices will be able to see exterior and interior historical elements and speak with DMAC staff.

In 2020 and again this year, other Open House programs have had to be virtual. This year’s virtual programs include “In Case You Missed It: New Buildings from Our Pandemic Year,” featuring a panel of architects and designers, and “Safeguarding Cultural Heritage in the Face of Urban Change,” which includes conversations with representatives of the Bronzeville Historical Society, the Chinese American Museum of Chicago and the National Hellenic Museum. Registration for these programs is through the Open House Chicago website.  

There is also an Open House Chicago app available at the website, Along with the maps and programs, the app includes content on shopping, dining and other attractions in the various neighborhoods where the featured sites are located.

Ellen Galland

Ellen Galland has had an architectural practice in Evanston since 1983. For more than 20 years, she has written articles for the RoundTable, including the column “Ask An Architect" and "The Green Column"...