The Baha’i’ Temple you’d expect.
The beautiful and unique House of Worship, just over the border in Wilmette, would probably be included in any tour of historic structures in the Evanston area.
And it is included as part of the Chicago Architecture Center’s 12th annual Open House weekend this Saturday and Sunday.
But what about 1229 Emerson St. in Evanston? Or 922 Davis St.?
Those are buildings you might drive right by without noticing.
But here’s why you should notice, and why you’ll also have the chance to go inside during the Open House event.
Just look for the signs in front.
The Archticture Center’s weekend features 150 culturally, historically, and, of course, architecturally significant buildings in the Chicago metropolitan area.
Half a dozen are in or near Evanston.
1229 Emerson, near Green Bay Road, is the current home of DMAC Architecture & Interiors, although the architecture business is just a coincidence.
Built as the Mt. Moriah Masonic Temple in 1929, the structure was designed by Walter T. Bailey, the first Black architect to receive a license in Illinois.
According to Ian Sapula, content manager for the Chicago Architecture Center, 1229 Emerson has “lived multiple lives,” and has undergone a “sensitive restoration,” combining the old and the new,” a restoration that Sapula says “saved the building.”
Not too far away, 922 Davis is now the home of Creative Co-working, a shared office spot.
Amelia Simmons, senior manager for the company, says the 1900-vintage structure was originally put up as a boarding house for workers building the Davis Street train station.
Upstairs at 922, Simmons says, were the bedrooms.
“There was also a parlor, shared kitchen, and restroom,” she notes. So the building is quite a bit bigger than it may seem from the frontage on Davis.
Creative Co-working bought the structure a dozen years ago, when upstairs still had dwelling units, and the ground floor had a guitar shop.
Sapula says by including lesser-known buildings such as 1229 Emerson and 922 Davis, the Center is “trying to have a blend” of architectural types and histories — large and famous, as well as “spaces which might fly under the radar.”
Other Evanston buildings in the Open House weekend are ones you might expect to see on that radar — First United Methodist Church at 516 Church St., First Presbyterian Church at 1427 Chicago Ave. and, from a a more recent era, the Rotary International world headquarters at 1560 Sherman Ave.
The Architecture Center, located in downtown Chicago, also has 20 self-guided audio tours of a variety of Chicagoland neighborhoods, available via the center’s app all month, and separate from the Open House event.
A good way to learn about a community is to learn about its buildings … who put them up, why, and how the functions may have changed over time.
That’s what the Open House weekend is all about, Sapula says, calling it a “celebration of the city’s richness in both people and architecture.”
To learn more about the Chicago Architecture Center, what buildings will be open this weekend, and information about the app, go to openhousechicago.org.