clock menu more-arrow no yes
A cavernous church sanctuary with light plaster walls, wood trim, and rows of pews.
The Arts and Crafts style sanctuary of Chicago’s Second Presbyterian Church.
Eric Allix Rogers/Chicago Architecture Center

16 historic churches, temples, synagogues to see at Open House Chicago

With over 90 stunning places of worship to choose from, it was hard to narrow it down

View as Map
The Arts and Crafts style sanctuary of Chicago’s Second Presbyterian Church.
| Eric Allix Rogers/Chicago Architecture Center

While it’s easy to appreciate Chicago’s historic and architecturally significant places of worship from outside, you’ll get a unique chance to also peek inside on October 19 and 20 during Open House Chicago. Curbed Chicago spoke with Eric Rogers, OHC and community outreach manager for the Chicago Architecture Center, to highlight some of the can’t-miss sacred spaces.

More than 90 churches, temples, and synagogues are taking part in this year’s free event. With so many good options, Rogers struggled to narrow it down to 16 favorites. He says he emphasized religious structures that have unusual architecture or are working to tackle important social issues. “It’s a genre I am very passionate about,” Rogers tells Curbed. “[Religious sites] tell the stories of the communities in which they exist, as well as what’s going on today.”

Beyond places of worship, this year’s OHC weekend includes access to 350 of the city’s most impressive skyscrapers, ornate theaters, and hidden cultural gems. To help plan your weekend, the Chicago Architecture Center lists all of the sites on their website and lets you filter by category. It even tells you which spots are expected to have the longest lines.

Read More

1. Third Unitarian Church

Copy Link
301 N Mayfield Ave
Chicago, IL 60644
(773) 626-9385
Visit Website

Architect Paul Schweikher designed this South Austin church in 1936. “He was known for Mid-century suburban houses,” Rogers said. “So it’s very unusual, and you feel like your in someone’s basement rec-room.” Constructed during the Great Depression, the church was built using brick and wood to save money—it is simple, but still unique.

Open Saturday, October, 19, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, October 20, from 1 to 5 p.m.

2. Trinity United Methodist Church

Copy Link
9848 S Winchester Ave
Chicago, IL 60643
(773) 445-5300
Visit Website

Located in Beverly, this neo-gothic structure dates back to 1940, but it also has this groovy stained glass installed in the 60s, according to Rogers. “That juxtaposition is really compelling.” The organ will be played periodically throughout the day.

Open Saturday, October 19, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, October 20, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

3. First Church of Deliverance

Copy Link
4315 S Wabash Ave
Chicago, IL 60653
(773) 373-7700
Visit Website

Walter T. Bailey, the first licensed African-American architect in Illinois, designed this Bronzeville church in the Streamline Moderne style. Rogers said this was one of the churches, “credited as the birthplace of gospel music.” The church has been broadcasting services for over 80 years, which makes it longest continuous program of its kind.

Open Saturday, October 19, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, October 20, from 1:30 to 5 p.m.

4. St. Ita Roman Catholic Church

Copy Link
5500 N Broadway
Chicago, IL 60640
(773) 561-5343
Visit Website

Located in Chicago’s Edgewater neighborhood, St. Ita is known for its 120-foot gothic tower is made out of 1,800 tons of Bedford limestone. The altar is elaborate, but the windows are really something to look at—they contain more than 200,000 pieces of stained glass.

Open Saturday, October 19, from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

5. St. Benedict the African Catholic Church

Copy Link
340 W 66th St
Chicago, IL 60621
(773) 873-4464
Visit Website

This modernist church in Englewood is inspired by traditional African huts and is named for an enslaved person in 16th-century Italy who followed Francis of Assisi. Along with contemporary stained glass and a 200-pound hand-woven tapestry, the sanctuary holds a full-immersion stone baptismal pool which holds 10,000 gallons of water.

Open Saturday, October, 19, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, October 20, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

6. Bahá'í House of Worship

Copy Link
100 Linden Ave
Wilmette, IL 60091
(847) 853-2300
Visit Website

Lots of people travel to Wilmette’s Bahá’í House of Worship throughout the year, but OHC visitors will be able to snap photos inside, something that is not usually allowed. The impressive North Shore structure is the Bahá’í religion’s first temple in the western hemisphere, opening in 1953. The dome is made with white Portland cement and crushed quartz to make it as white as possible.

Open Saturday, October, 19, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, October 20, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

7. New Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church

Copy Link
4301 W Washington Blvd
Chicago, IL 60624
(773) 287-5051
Visit Website

St. Mel’s Irish Catholic parish once occupied this 1910 building in West Garfield Park, but the Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church bought it in 1993. “Much of the original design remains,” Rogers said, but the building’s new windows are “very powerful.” One depicts the slave trade’s imprint on this African-American church and the surrounding community. The newest window includes imagery of the child martyrs from the Civil Rights movement and Chicago’s urban violence, including Hadiyah Pendleton and Laquan McDonald.

Open Saturday, October, 19, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday, October 20, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

8. Augustana Lutheran Church

Copy Link
5500 S Woodlawn Ave
Chicago, IL 60637
(773) 493-6451
Visit Website

“It’s a brutalist church, all brick and concrete, and almost a cavelike experience,” said Rogers regarding Hyde Park’s modernist Augustana Lutheran Church. Inside, you can also see sacred art including works by the late Chicago sculptor Egon Weiner.

Open Saturday, October, 19, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, October 20, from noon to 5 p.m.

9. KAM Isaiah Israel Congregation

Copy Link
1100 E Hyde Park Blvd
Chicago, IL 60615
(773) 924-1234
Visit Website

Right across the street from former President Obama’s home, this 1924 building houses the oldest Jewish congregation in the Midwest, founded in 1847. “Its smaller chapel was designed later by Ron Dirsmith, an architect who was mostly known for later working with Hugh Hefner doing office designs for Playboy,” Rogers said.

Open Saturday, October, 19, from noon to 3 p.m. and Sunday, October 20, from noon to 3 p.m.

10. West Suburban Temple Har Zion Synagogue

Copy Link
1040 N Harlem Ave
River Forest, IL 60305
(708) 366-9000
Visit Website

This modernist synagogue was built in River Forest by architecture firm Loebl, Schlossman and Bennett in 1953. But, Rogers said that “the real star is the collection of five 20-foot-tall stained glass windows that were executed in the 60s by William Gropper, known as a comic artist. It tells the story of the book of Genesis in his unusual, almost cartoonish style.”

Open Sunday, October 20, from noon to 5 p.m.

11. St. Paul's Catholic Church

Copy Link
2127 W 22nd Pl
Chicago, IL 60608
(773) 847-6100
Visit Website

Rogers called this Lower West Side church, “instantly recognizable for having the twin spires that you can see from a long way away.” But its real claim to fame is not as noticeable—it was constructed without a single nail and even featured in Ripley’s Believe It Or Not.

Open Saturday, October, 19, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday, October 20, from 1 to 5 p.m.

12. Second Presbyterian Church

Copy Link
1936 Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60616
(312) 225-4951
Visit Website

A National Historic Landmark, this South Loop church suffered a devastating fire in 1900, so the congregation hired architects Howard Van Doren Shaw and Frederic Clay Bartlett to rebuild the building in the then-popular Arts and Crafts style. Over the years, the church welcomed many famous Chicago families including the Pullmans, Blackstones, and Armours.

Open Saturday, October, 19, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, October 20, from 12:30 to 5 p.m.

13. Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral

Copy Link
1121 N Leavitt St
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 486-6064
Visit Website

Holy Trinity is on the National Register of Historic Places and is a Chicago Landmark and is the oldest Orthodox parish in Chicago. Its unique style is typical of Slavic provincial architecture. Designed by Louis Sullivan, it is the famous architect’s only remaining church in Chicago and one of just two in the world.

Open Saturday, October, 19, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday, October 20, from noon to 4 p.m.

14. Buddhist Temple of Chicago

Copy Link
1151 W Leland Ave
Chicago, IL 60640
(773) 334-4661
Visit Website

This contemporary Buddhist temple with a hexagonal shape was constructed in 2006 in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood. Chicago’s original temple, however, was founded in Hyde Park in 1944 and catered to Japanese-Americans recently released from World War II internment camps.

Open Saturday, October, 19, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, October 20, from 1 to 5 p.m.

15. Chicago Loop Synagogue

Copy Link
16 S Clark St
Chicago, IL 60603
(312) 346-7370
Visit Website

The current building was designed by Loebl, Schlossman and Bennett in 1957, although the Chicago Loop Synagogue was founded in 1929 for Jewish workers downtown and visitors. A must-see here is a wall of stained glass crafted by Abraham Rattner.

Open Sunday, October 20, from noon to 5 p.m.

16. Ling Shen Ching Tze Buddhist Temple

Copy Link
1035 W 31st St
Chicago, IL 60608
(773) 927-8807
Visit Website

After this building’s designer John Wellborn Root died mid-project, Daniel Burnham took over in 1891 to complete what was then the Emmanuel Presbyterian Church. Since 1992, the Bridgeport building has been home to the Ling Shen Ching Tze Temple of True Buddha School. Visitors will be asked to remove their shoes before entering.

Open Saturday, October, 19, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday, October 20, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Loading comments...

1. Third Unitarian Church

301 N Mayfield Ave, Chicago, IL 60644

Architect Paul Schweikher designed this South Austin church in 1936. “He was known for Mid-century suburban houses,” Rogers said. “So it’s very unusual, and you feel like your in someone’s basement rec-room.” Constructed during the Great Depression, the church was built using brick and wood to save money—it is simple, but still unique.

Open Saturday, October, 19, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, October 20, from 1 to 5 p.m.

301 N Mayfield Ave
Chicago, IL 60644

2. Trinity United Methodist Church

9848 S Winchester Ave, Chicago, IL 60643

Located in Beverly, this neo-gothic structure dates back to 1940, but it also has this groovy stained glass installed in the 60s, according to Rogers. “That juxtaposition is really compelling.” The organ will be played periodically throughout the day.

Open Saturday, October 19, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, October 20, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

9848 S Winchester Ave
Chicago, IL 60643

3. First Church of Deliverance

4315 S Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60653

Walter T. Bailey, the first licensed African-American architect in Illinois, designed this Bronzeville church in the Streamline Moderne style. Rogers said this was one of the churches, “credited as the birthplace of gospel music.” The church has been broadcasting services for over 80 years, which makes it longest continuous program of its kind.

Open Saturday, October 19, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, October 20, from 1:30 to 5 p.m.

4315 S Wabash Ave
Chicago, IL 60653

4. St. Ita Roman Catholic Church

5500 N Broadway, Chicago, IL 60640

Located in Chicago’s Edgewater neighborhood, St. Ita is known for its 120-foot gothic tower is made out of 1,800 tons of Bedford limestone. The altar is elaborate, but the windows are really something to look at—they contain more than 200,000 pieces of stained glass.

Open Saturday, October 19, from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

5500 N Broadway
Chicago, IL 60640

5. St. Benedict the African Catholic Church

340 W 66th St, Chicago, IL 60621

This modernist church in Englewood is inspired by traditional African huts and is named for an enslaved person in 16th-century Italy who followed Francis of Assisi. Along with contemporary stained glass and a 200-pound hand-woven tapestry, the sanctuary holds a full-immersion stone baptismal pool which holds 10,000 gallons of water.

Open Saturday, October, 19, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, October 20, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

340 W 66th St
Chicago, IL 60621

6. Bahá'í House of Worship

100 Linden Ave, Wilmette, IL 60091

Lots of people travel to Wilmette’s Bahá’í House of Worship throughout the year, but OHC visitors will be able to snap photos inside, something that is not usually allowed. The impressive North Shore structure is the Bahá’í religion’s first temple in the western hemisphere, opening in 1953. The dome is made with white Portland cement and crushed quartz to make it as white as possible.

Open Saturday, October, 19, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, October 20, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

100 Linden Ave
Wilmette, IL 60091

7. New Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church

4301 W Washington Blvd, Chicago, IL 60624

St. Mel’s Irish Catholic parish once occupied this 1910 building in West Garfield Park, but the Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church bought it in 1993. “Much of the original design remains,” Rogers said, but the building’s new windows are “very powerful.” One depicts the slave trade’s imprint on this African-American church and the surrounding community. The newest window includes imagery of the child martyrs from the Civil Rights movement and Chicago’s urban violence, including Hadiyah Pendleton and Laquan McDonald.

Open Saturday, October, 19, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday, October 20, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

4301 W Washington Blvd
Chicago, IL 60624

8. Augustana Lutheran Church

5500 S Woodlawn Ave, Chicago, IL 60637

“It’s a brutalist church, all brick and concrete, and almost a cavelike experience,” said Rogers regarding Hyde Park’s modernist Augustana Lutheran Church. Inside, you can also see sacred art including works by the late Chicago sculptor Egon Weiner.

Open Saturday, October, 19, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, October 20, from noon to 5 p.m.

5500 S Woodlawn Ave
Chicago, IL 60637

9. KAM Isaiah Israel Congregation

1100 E Hyde Park Blvd, Chicago, IL 60615

Right across the street from former President Obama’s home, this 1924 building houses the oldest Jewish congregation in the Midwest, founded in 1847. “Its smaller chapel was designed later by Ron Dirsmith, an architect who was mostly known for later working with Hugh Hefner doing office designs for Playboy,” Rogers said.

Open Saturday, October, 19, from noon to 3 p.m. and Sunday, October 20, from noon to 3 p.m.

1100 E Hyde Park Blvd
Chicago, IL 60615

10. West Suburban Temple Har Zion Synagogue

1040 N Harlem Ave, River Forest, IL 60305

This modernist synagogue was built in River Forest by architecture firm Loebl, Schlossman and Bennett in 1953. But, Rogers said that “the real star is the collection of five 20-foot-tall stained glass windows that were executed in the 60s by William Gropper, known as a comic artist. It tells the story of the book of Genesis in his unusual, almost cartoonish style.”

Open Sunday, October 20, from noon to 5 p.m.

1040 N Harlem Ave
River Forest, IL 60305

11. St. Paul's Catholic Church

2127 W 22nd Pl, Chicago, IL 60608

Rogers called this Lower West Side church, “instantly recognizable for having the twin spires that you can see from a long way away.” But its real claim to fame is not as noticeable—it was constructed without a single nail and even featured in Ripley’s Believe It Or Not.

Open Saturday, October, 19, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday, October 20, from 1 to 5 p.m.

2127 W 22nd Pl
Chicago, IL 60608

12. Second Presbyterian Church

1936 Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60616

A National Historic Landmark, this South Loop church suffered a devastating fire in 1900, so the congregation hired architects Howard Van Doren Shaw and Frederic Clay Bartlett to rebuild the building in the then-popular Arts and Crafts style. Over the years, the church welcomed many famous Chicago families including the Pullmans, Blackstones, and Armours.

Open Saturday, October, 19, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, October 20, from 12:30 to 5 p.m.

1936 Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60616

13. Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral

1121 N Leavitt St, Chicago, IL 60622

Holy Trinity is on the National Register of Historic Places and is a Chicago Landmark and is the oldest Orthodox parish in Chicago. Its unique style is typical of Slavic provincial architecture. Designed by Louis Sullivan, it is the famous architect’s only remaining church in Chicago and one of just two in the world.

Open Saturday, October, 19, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday, October 20, from noon to 4 p.m.

1121 N Leavitt St
Chicago, IL 60622

14. Buddhist Temple of Chicago

1151 W Leland Ave, Chicago, IL 60640

This contemporary Buddhist temple with a hexagonal shape was constructed in 2006 in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood. Chicago’s original temple, however, was founded in Hyde Park in 1944 and catered to Japanese-Americans recently released from World War II internment camps.

Open Saturday, October, 19, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, October 20, from 1 to 5 p.m.

1151 W Leland Ave
Chicago, IL 60640

15. Chicago Loop Synagogue

16 S Clark St, Chicago, IL 60603

The current building was designed by Loebl, Schlossman and Bennett in 1957, although the Chicago Loop Synagogue was founded in 1929 for Jewish workers downtown and visitors. A must-see here is a wall of stained glass crafted by Abraham Rattner.

Open Sunday, October 20, from noon to 5 p.m.

16 S Clark St
Chicago, IL 60603

16. Ling Shen Ching Tze Buddhist Temple

1035 W 31st St, Chicago, IL 60608

After this building’s designer John Wellborn Root died mid-project, Daniel Burnham took over in 1891 to complete what was then the Emmanuel Presbyterian Church. Since 1992, the Bridgeport building has been home to the Ling Shen Ching Tze Temple of True Buddha School. Visitors will be asked to remove their shoes before entering.

Open Saturday, October, 19, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday, October 20, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

1035 W 31st St
Chicago, IL 60608