HYDE PARK — The Chicago Architecture Foundation is helping the curious get past the doorman at one of Chicago's exclusive spaces, an art deco skyscraper in Hyde Park.
As part of Open House Chicago, the Powhatan Apartment building will allow visitors through its doors to view the lobby and pool on Oct. 13-14. The open house is a free public event that will open doors to 150 buildings in Chicago. No reservations are required.
Many are drawn to the Powhatan building by the mosaic panels relating to Lake Michigan and Chief Powhatan that run up the 22-story facade, but the public does not usually have access to the intricate tile work that continues on the interior.
"It's an internationally known art deco building," said Ruth Graff, the on-site property manager. "People wander in and we have to stop them at the door because it is a private building."
There are no hallways for visitors to wander. Robert S. DeGolyer and Charles Morgan designed the building in 1929 so that the elevators open directly into apartments. To get into the building, guests must get past the doorman and then be escorted up to their destination by an elevator attendant.
Visitors for Open House Chicago will be able to view the pool and the lobby, which features a massive stone fireplace, burled wood and noteworthy mosaics.
According to the Chicago Architecture Foundation, "Morgan is responsible for the decorative details, including the colorful mosaics that decorate the facade, the outer lobby, inner lobby, as well as in the swimming pool, where they suggest the mural abstractions at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Midway Gardens,"
The pool on the first floor has lost many of its mosaics to humidity, but two panels remain and will be on view.
The cooperative apartment building will be one of a dozen buildings in Hyde Park open to the public for the Open House Chicago tours, but the Powhatan is the most exclusive in the list of libraries, churches and University of Chicago buildings.
In neighboring Bronzeville, 21 buildings will be open to the public, many of them normally closed to even a persistent architecture buff. The Welcome Inn Manor bed and breakfast will open the 1893 mansion for tours. The Croatian Ethnic Institute will also open the 1887 Ryerson Mansion for tours.
A full list of buildings open during the event is available at www.openhousechicago.org.