PORTAGE PARK — Anne's Haven, 5629 W. Irving Park Road, calls itself an "oasis," and its surroundings are a quick indication why.
Wedged between a sports fitness gym and an auto body shop, it feels like a world apart from the state highway thrumming outside. Exotic plants, padded rocking chairs, hand-drawn paintings and lilting music stretch through the tunnel-like space, stitching together the atmosphere of a rustic getaway.
The log cabin theme is intentional, owner Janet Giangrasse said. She opened the space in the summer to be a "refuge" specifically built for women, where they could meet and unwind without fear or judgment.
Hosting everything from yoga classes and crochet circles to potluck dinners and artisanal pop-up markets, Anne's Haven takes on a new identity with every passing hour of its weekly schedule. Depending on who's inside, it could be a recreational center, a work incubator, a lounge or a cafeteria.
"The idea is to have a place where women can come help one another emotionally, physically or professionally," Giangrasse said. "Where they can gather, figure out what they want to do, and go do it — then come back and relax."
The space is laid out like a home, with a living room assembled around an electric fireplace, a small kitchen with snacks and coffee machine next to a dining room table, and an outdoor patio area with hammocks and a fire pit.
Overlooking it is a framed photograph of its namesake, Giangrasse's mother Anne, who lived a life "full of energy and ideas" before dying in 2011, she said.
"She was so great at art and storytelling and business, but she never had any real opportunity to go out and put her skills and passions to work," Giangrasse said. "I feel like if only she had a space like this, she could have gone on to be the next president or something."
Anne's Haven doesn't operate continuous hours, instead opening on an ad-hoc basis for planned activities. But Giangrasse lives about a block away, and she often entertains impromptu requests for access, she said — for the price of $5, which entitles guests to the coffee and snacks kept inside.
Anyone interested in attending a program is asked to RSVP by emailing Giangrasse in advance at email@example.com.
Weekly activities planned for this spring include:
• Visitors can sign up for a meditation workshop at 10:30 a.m. every Sunday, in a program described as "delv[ing] into some of life's biggest questions through discussion, deep breathing, mindfulness, yoga, meditation, guided imagery and other practices to help discover some answers." A spot can be reserved for $15 by calling instructor Mary Lou Bisinski at 773-318-3830.
• A "sketch-and-sip" program is held at 4 p.m. Sundays, inviting visitors to sketch artwork and drink wine. The event is BYOB and participation is $20.
• From 1-6 p.m. on the last Sunday of every month, Anne's Haven transforms into Anne's Market, when women are invited to sell artisanal items including jewelry, paintings, teas, baby clothes, body oils and more.
• Two back-to-back yoga classes are held at 6-7:15 p.m. every Monday, which the instructor describes as learning "how to harmonize your mind, body and spirit as we flow through a practice of movement and breath that will lead you to a sense of inner peace and well being." Each class costs $15.
• At 7 p.m. every Wednesday, Anne's Haven can be reserved for potluck dinners, at a cost of $25 per group. During warmer months, the backyard fire pit is open for use.
• Personal trainer Bridget Trainer hosts a beginner's fitness class every at 7 p.m. Thursday, focusing on techniques that can be repeated at home. The program is described as “toning and strengthening the glutes and core, increasing flexibility, correcting posture, losing wight" and "boosting energy." Each class costs $15.
• Visitors can perform at an open mic at 8:30 p.m. Thursdays, during which they're invited to "sing, tell stories or jokes, or anything they want," Giangrasse said. The event is BYOB and participation is $5.
• One mother hosts a "moms and babies meetup" at 11 a.m. every Friday, when parents are invited to let their newborns or toddlers play together in the corner of Anne's Haven that's been carved into a daycare. Participation costs $3.
• "Psychomotricity" at 10 a.m. Saturdays is an activity aimed at kids 12 described as a "class where parents and kids can interact in a fun way through the medium of games, music and movement." Partcipation is $10 per child.