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 2018 together.
Michelle Lytle is one of the owners and creators of The Lytle House, an old auto body shop that has been converted into a quirky, secluded event space. Her wife, Robyn, runs the business on the front end and Michelle takes care of the grounds and any maintenance issues that arise.
What is your favorite part about this site? Why should people see it?
My favorite part of our space is that you can't tell what's there until you enter through the front gate. We have a 10-foot tall steel wall surrounding the property with ivy growing over it. Eventually, the wall will be completely covered with ivy, which will complete the transformation. But even as it is now, it catches your breath every time you enter from Broadway. If you love hidden spaces or places that aren't what they appear to be at first glance, you'll love this site.
What do you love about Open House Chicago? What was your favorite OHC experience?
My favorite thing about Open House Chicago is how passionate the people who run it are. It's incredible to see a group of people come together purely for the love of architecture, history, and sharing these sites with the public.
What is your favorite Open House Chicago site other than your own?
My favorite site would have to be St. Ita right across the street from us! I had no idea how incredible its history was until we ventured over there for a tour. It is incredible to hear and see the transformations that have happened and the various notable people who have attended mass there.
Why should people visit your site?
People should visit our site because it's a complete transformation from a rundown auto garage to a secret garden in the city. My wife and I put everything we had into the building and worked hard to preserve a little bit of its history and character instead of tearing down and building from the ground up. I love when we run into people in the neighborhood who remember our property being surrounded by a chain link fence with a concrete driveway full of dead cars. It was an eyesore. To be able to transform all of that into a little oasis in the city has been incredibly fulfilling. This property was a complete gut. We took the harder path but it was well worth it in the end and to see people's faces when they look at the before and after...it makes it all worth it.