Discover Austin: Cathedral of Junk - Episode 16

In this episode of Discover Austin, we head to south Austin to admire a vary large piece of art, tucked away in an unassuming neighborhood back yard.  While many of us will see it and think, "that's just trash," the creator, Vince Hannemann, refers to his masterpiece as the Cathedral of Junk.  If you'd prefer to read about the Cathedral of Junk, instead of watching the video, the transcript can be found below the video.

On this episode of Discover Austin, we're going to look at one of the quirky places that helps to keep Austin weird, the Cathedral of Junk.

Tucked away in a quiet neighborhood in South Austin, 4422 Lorena looks completely normal from the front. But as you get to the back you'll find it's anything but.  This is the Cathedral of Junk.  Vince Hannemann is the creator.

The Cathedral has various rooms and several levels.  The main room is two stories high and really seems surprisingly large and cavernous.  Everywhere you look you’ll find interesting artifacts and random objects – essentially, just some junk.  You can find a license plate from just about every state.  There are lots of Barbie dolls, too.  Many objects are attached to the truss system that creates the cathedral itself, but others are set in concrete along the ground.  Clearly, trying to create a list of what comprises the Cathedral of Junk is rather pointless, but you’ll find wine bottles, rubber ducks, toilets, TVs, car parts, a plastic snowman, lots of bike tires, gnomes, and a whole host of other things.

In 2010 the city of Austin came calling to figure out exactly what he was doing in his back yard.  The city quickly decided that he crossed the line from yard art to building.  What kind of building it was the city wasn’t sure, but they knew he needed some sort of building permit.  He had to bring in an engineer to verify that the three story “building” was structurally sound.  He had to reduce the size of it because it was too close to the side boundary.  From start to finish, the process to obtain the proper building permits took seven months.  Ever since then, he jokingly says he has tried to keep a low profile – well, I guess as low as a three story sculpture made of junk can be.

It really is a very cool thing to visit.  But what if you lived next door to The Cathedral of Junk?

Vince and his Cathedral have hosted weddings, New Year’s Eve parties, bachelor parties, and school tour groups.  It is a fun place to visit, but you must have an appointment to view the Cathedral of Junk.  Since there is no official, the only way to get an appointment is to call Vince at 512-299-7413.  If you show up without an appointment, you won’t get into the back yard.

CK is my videographer and he does a fabulous job but you really need to see it in person to really appreciate the Cathedral of Junk. But be sure to call Vince first so he can expect you.

I'm Craig Smyser, thanks for watching this episode of Discover Austin.

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