The doors to Chicago’s finest places and spaces don’t unlock themselves. This year, we’re introducing you to the passionate, enthusiastic people helping us put Open House Chicago 2017 together.
Fr. Alexander Koranda is the new priest at Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Cathedral, the oldest Orthodox parish in Chicago and returning Open House Chicago site that has drawn in more than 5,000 visitors. Al Walavich is a Chicago tour guide who has served as the primary docent at the 114-year-old church in Ukrainian Village for nearly four years.
Partly financed by a donation from Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, the building is “remindful of the small, intimate, rural buildings left in the Old World.” It features Russian provincial architecture, including an octagonal dome and a frontal bell tower. But it also holds the distinction of being one of just two churches in the world designed by Louis Sullivan, who added some Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts touches that were characteristic of his work.
What is your favorite part about this site? Why should people see it?
AK: My favorite part of the Cathedral is that it takes you out of the world and elevates you to something divine. One should see this site because it is inspiring, holy and a great mystery.
AW: My favorite part about the cathedral is the overall experience where art, architecture and faith come together in a perfect synergy. People should see the site in order to experience the only extant example of ecclesiastical architecture by Louis Sullivan lovingly cherished by its congregation.
What do you love about Open House Chicago? What was your favorite OHC experience?
AK: This is a wonderful event that gives us, as a city, the chance to display our many treasures that many may not know about.
AW: Open House Chicago is the one weekend where the world is able to visit amazing architectural sites as well as the offices of many architects who are building our city. My favorite experience as a host is to invite people to experience one of the treasures of Chicago.
What is the most unusual or most common question you get asked by visitors?
AW: The most common question is "Isn't this just a museum?" which is always preceded by "Wow!"
What is your favorite Open House Chicago site other than your own?
AW: My favorite OHC site other than Holy Trinity is the Elks National Memorial. This building offers one of the most spectacular interiors in the city, and it should be known to more people than it is.