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Cathedral of Junk

With my last post being a meditation on some of my deepest, darkest, honest feelings about moving to Austin, it seems strange to move breezily right along to another 30 by 30, but I think I’m comfortable leaving things as they are. After writing and re-writing (and ultimately scrubbing) a dozen different clarifications, I think I need to step back from trying to pin down something not ready to be defined. I think it might make things harder that way.

Though it certainly produced a lot of blog posts over the last few years.

Because I need to rest in what I know, my last thought on the matter will be this (as shared on FB): “Austin is more home than other places. New England is more HOME than Austin. For a while I’ve been really concerned with giving them equal importance in my mind (and heart), but I think now that my connection to Texas doesn’t have to feel like my connection to New England in order for this to be an important place for me *right now*.”

Now on to another Austin adventure…

Basically just like that, with the treasures and the thrones, but minus the crushing tragedy.

Basically just like that, with the treasures and the throne, but minus the crushing tragedy.

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The Cathedral of Junk stands quietly in the backyard of a small house on a suburban street on the south side of Austin. Unlike other busybody constructions that we’ve visited — the Forevertron, the Garden of Eden, the Orange Show — this one blends with its neighborhood. From the street, it’s invisible.

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Orange

Vince Hannemann began building the Cathedral in 1988, when he was in his mid-twenties. He’s added to it steadily ever since, and he estimates that it now contains over 60 tons of junk. “People ask me all the time, ‘What made you want to do this?’ Like it had some sort of profound meaning. I just did it because I liked it. And when I stop liking it I’ll take it down.”

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┬áThe Cathedral seems small, at least from the outside, which is understandable given the small size of Vince’s back yard. Once you enter, however, it magically expands. Perhaps it’s the stairways and multiple levels, or the vaulted ceilings, or the observation platforms, or the “Throne Room,” whose chair, made of god-knows-what, sits at the Cathedral’s heart.

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Cathedral 2

Cathedral

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Vince, who has a day job, is happy to show visitors his creation when he’s around. The Cathedral has hosted weddings, CD debut parties, bachelor parties, and is a popular destination for tour groups of schoolkids and senior citizens.

Unlike medieval cathedrals, whose construction often spanned several generations, the Cathedral of Junk will be finished well within Vince Hannemann’s lifetime, if he has anything to say about it. “Oh, no. I’m not doing this for the rest of my life. I want to retire to the back porch. I want to putter.”

- Roadside America