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Open House Chicago: Lincoln Park

By Quinn Ford | October 20, 2013 8:45am
 Twelve buildings in Lincoln Park are opening their doors through Sunday for the third annual Open House Chicago.
Open House Chicago: Lincoln Park
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LINCOLN PARK —That mansion at the end of the block - you're curious about it. And you've lucked out this weekend.

The Chicago Architecture Foundation is hosting its third annual Open House Chicago this weekend. The foundation boasts 150 buildings across the city that are open to the public through Sunday evening.

In Lincoln Park, 12 buildings are participating in the open house, including the Elks National Memorial and Headquarters, 2750 North Lakeview Avenue.

The building, designed by Egerton Swartwout, was completed in 1924 after bringing in marble from all over the world, including places like Greece, Austria, France and Italy.

The building, which was built as a memorial to more than 1,000 Elk members who were killed during World War I, features an ornate rotunda and reception hall that will be open to the public until Sunday.

In addition to the main memorial hall, the building also houses administrative offices for the organizations, said David Augustus, the site's facility manager.

Augustus said most people always ask the same question.

"'What do they do here?' is what the most common question is," Augustus said. (For the record, it's a social and community service organization.)

Bob Hennings, who has been an Elk for 20 years, heads the group's national veteran service commission.

Hennings said the group was founded in New York City in 1868 and has grown to about 850,000 members today. The organization can boast many well-known names, from President Harry S. Truman to General John Pershing to baseball great Mickey Mantle.

"The common perception of the Elks is a bunch of old guys sitting at the bar drinking," Hennings said. "We've worked hard to try and change that image.

"We do have a lot of older members, so I suppose there is a kernel of truth in all of that," Hennings said with a smile.

Just down the block from the Elks National Memorial is the historic Brewster Apartments.

The apartments were built in 1893 and have been home to big names like Charlie Chaplin, Illinois Governor John Peter Altgeld and Dion O'Banion, the North Side rival of Al Capone.

But Ed Wierman, who lived in the building for five years and is also a member of the building's board, said it is the architecture that really makes the edifice special.

"You just have to come see it. It's one of those buildings that has such unique architecture, and those buildings usually don't survive," Wierman said. "It's really a wonderful place to live."

The building has a number of features that make it unique, including a sky-light center courtyard, suspended glass-block walkways and an old-fashioned operated caged elevator.

And if the building looks familiar to visitors, it may be because it has been featured in movies like "Child's Play," "Running Scared" and "Hoodlum."

Open House Chicago runs through the weekend. Most building are open until 5 p.m. Sunday; check here for details for each building.