- March 14, 2012

Spring Break Fun: Cathedral of Junk


Looking for some FREE & FUN ideas for Spring Break?  Why not take a trip to Austin’s famous Cathedral of Junk?

Yep, you heard me right – Cathedral of JUNK.

Now wait, isn’t that just a fancy name for the Junk Yard?  Or my neighbor’s garage??

Nope.  Since 1992, in the backyard of a local artist’s home, lives an amazing pile of….well, junk.  But it’s incredible junk…..

When you first arrive, you are overwhelmed with the enormity of it all – the fact that it is all built out of stuff that you and I threw away as junk and this artist made it into a work of art.  Surfboard, tires, cd players, toys, bowling balls, motorcycles, glass bottles… the list goes on and on.

As I edited all the pictures I took when we visited, I was saddened that the pictures don’t really do the “Art” justice.  I mean, it looks like a big pile of junk.  But look closer…..

Get real close and look around you – everywhere you look you are overwhelmed with nostalgia.

Hey, look, there’s that walkman I just to carry with me everywhere!   Look at that huge video camera… kids, you used to have to hold it on your shoulder it was so heavy!  What?  Is that a motorcycle built out of wire?  Yes, this IS a telephone, the rotary would dial the number for you. Aww, look at the smurfs I found…

I must have walked past this one area 7 times and each time I saw something new.

The fact that art is made out of someone’s else’s junk was fascinating to the kids.  They loved exploring, as the Cathedral is 3 stories high (it’s very sturdy). With rooms and passageways, my kids were kept busy finding new and amazing things to point out.

We also enjoyed finding fun photo opportunities…..

The unassuming artist, Vince Hannemann, was working on a “restoration” of the Cathedral when we visited. Facing neighbor complaints and regulatory concerns from the City of Austin, Vince began tearing down the 33-foot tall tower in June of 2010.   Over 100 volunteers spent 7 months getting rid of over 40 tons of junk and rebuilding it to the structure it is today.

To him, it’s a tree-house of sorts, built lovingly with junk people bring him.  Vince is down to earth and we had a great time hearing how it was built, how it has evolved and funny stories of weddings and plays and other unusual events that he hosts… in his backyard.  How often can you say you talked to the artist, kids?

Since it is in his backyard, Vince doesn’t post hours and he doesn’t charge an admission (but a donation is sure nice!!).  He is around on the weekends to accommodate visitors.  But you can also give him a call during the week and set up an appointment like we did – we had the place to ourselves the whole time!

The kids gave it a “thumbs up”!  They were fascinated and it was a definite fun stop on our quest to “Keep Austin Weird!”

Texas Travels Facts about The Cathedral of Junk:
Location: 4422 Lareina Dr Austin, TX
Hours: No “official” hours – there most weekends, call for weekday appt. (512-299-7413)
Admission: Free
Recommended Time: 1 hour
Good to Know: great for kids, bring water as it can get hot in the summer, wear tennis shoes to explore in, owner has friendly dogs

Rebecca, a local contributer, spends most of her time hunting down family fun around the Austin area for R We There Yet Mom?  Currently, she is running a Texas Travels Spring Break Series to help you plan all sorts of fun for the upcoming break.  Follow her traveling-momma-isms (totally a word) on R We There Yet Mom?’s Facebook Page and Twitter.