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Cathedral of Junk Entrance
Cathedral of Junk Entrance | © Jennifer Morrow / WikiCommons
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A Brief History of Austin's Cathedral of Junk

Picture of Jessica Devenyns
Updated: 30 April 2018
Although its name sounds impressive – and it is – from the street, the Cathedral of Junk is an invisible structure.

Begun in 1988, the guy who’s responsible for this creation is Vince Hannemann. He was in his mid-20s when he began to construct the cathedral and has spent the last 30 years adding to it. Today, over 60 tons of junk are cobbled together to create a soaring construction complete with dozens of rooms, multiple levels and the crowning jewel, the throne room.

Cathedral of Junk Throne Room | © zombieite / Flickr

Think of it like found art. Or a tower of bric-a-brac. Basically, it’s the clubhouse you always wanted as a kid. The hollow interior is a winding labyrinth through a museum of stuff. You’ll see lawnmower wheels, car bumpers, kitchen utensils, ladders, cables, bottles, circuit boards, bicycle parts and a lot of stuff that is, frankly, unidentifiable. There is even electricity flowing through the cathedral that keeps all the clock and beer signs lit to help you identify your way around.

Not everyone is impressed, however, with Hannemann’s cathedral. Rather than thinking of it as a pile of rubbish, you need to reorient your perspective and recognize that this cathedral is a living sculpture that is built to withstand Texas storms. In fact, as over the years neighbors have complained, city engineers have inspected the structural integrity of this heap of junk. However, they’ve never found anything wrong with it, and so the cathedral remains standing.

Cathedral of Junk Entrance | © Jennifer Morrow / WikiCommons

Those who love the idea, though, are always welcome. Hannemann has a day job, so if you want to visit, make sure you call ahead (512-299-7413). There’s a suggested $10 donation and because the cathedral is located in a residential neighborhood, you may have to park around the block to walk over to his house.

Just please don’t bring junk to add to the pile without asking. Hannemann is an artist and the Cathedral of Junk is his creation. It is not merely a hodgepodge of leftovers stacked together; each room is a thoughtful construction around an idea.

Otherwise, when you come to enjoy this living sculpture, take pictures. It may not be exactly the same next time you visit.