BRIDGEPORT — The city is filled with 'em, those buildings you always wanted to go inside but never really had the chance.
Well, this weekend is your opportunity.
Now in its fourth year, the Chicago Architecture Foundation's "Open House" invites the public to wander into some 150 interesting Chicago buildings. It's free.
This year, organizers are highlighting nine sites across Bridgeport and Back of the Yards for the tours, with a roster that includes houses of faith and food and places of artwork and adornments.
Most of the tours take place 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday but there are some exceptions. No tickets are necessary, but some of the tours require advance registration.
• Designed by John Welborn Root, and completed posthumously by Daniel Burnham, the building at 1035 W. 31st St. is now home to the Ling Shen Ching Tze Temple of True Buddha School, a Buddhist center housing statues, prayer chambers and reading rooms.
• Founded in 1882, St. Mary of Perpetual Help Parish, 1039 W. 32nd St., was a house of worship for Bridgeport's Polish Catholic community. Today, it remains a towering, architecturally ornate presence in the neighborhood.
• Decorators Supply Corporation, 3610 S. Morgan St., is a manufacturer of custom architectural accouterments with roots stretching back to the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893.
• Founded by world-famous artists ShanZuo and DaHuang Zhou, the Zhou B Art Center, 1029 W. 35th St., is celebrating its 10th anniversary by welcoming the public to check out new collections of work from the brothers and the artists who reside there.
• Filled with bakeries, an indoor shrimp farm, mushroom pods and aquaponically grown greens, The Plant, 1400 W. 46th St., is at the forefront of sustainable farming and food production.
• Nearby Testa Produce, 4555 S. Racine Ave. touts a long list of energy-efficient features, including a "vegetated" roof to absorb rainwater, solar panels, a towering windmill and electric fleet of delivery trucks, to help power its food distribution business. Note: Registration for the Testa tour is closed.
• The Iron Street Urban Farm, 3333 S. Iron St., is located throughout a converted trucking warehouse, where a dozen full-time staffers are joined each season by at-risk teens to grow crops and build community.
• The Chicago Maritime Museum, located in the basement of the Bridgeport Art Center, 1200 W. 35th St., pays homage to the city's history as a busy waterside port, strategically located at the foot of the Great Lakes, making it accessible for trade ships from across the globe.
• Holy Cross-Immaculate Heart of Mary, 1746 W. 46th St., is a different parish than when it opened in 1905 as Holy Cross for the area's Lithuanian Catholics. Today, it's merged with Immaculate Heart of Mary and serves a largely Hispanic population, who gather each week to worship among the paintings, stained-glass windows and some 2,000 light bulbs that help keep the church glowing.
See the official Open House Chicago website for details.
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