Cathedral of Junk – Austin, Texas - Atlas Obscura

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Cathedral of Junk

This unique structure in suburban Austin is made up entirely of other people's castaways, and constantly changing. 


Tucked unsuspectingly in a suburban backyard in South Austin, is Vince Hannemann’s towering Cathedral of Junk.

More than 60 tons of discarded items make up the skeleton and decoration of the structure, from old bicycles to household appliances. The construction of the cathedral started in 1989, when Hannemann was in his 20s. For a few years he collected junk for his project, but it was soon unnecessary as people began to supply him with their unwanted goods.

And the Cathedral of Junk is evolving. There once stood a three-story tower in the back of the cathedral, but Hannemann tore it down thinking he was finally done with his long-lasting project. But instead of dismantling the cathedral further, and after having had a change of heart, he added three more rooms to the structure with the pieces of the former tower.

Seemingly hidden from the front of the house, the cathedral is not completely invisible to neighbors. Tenants of a townhome complex located behind the house have filed complaints with the city, which in turn warranted inspection by officials. Several city engineers attempted to find weak points in the structure, though it was found to be structurally sound and safe. Hannemann did have to destroy his pyramid of televisions, but many of these found a new home in the “zen garden of TVs.”

Know Before You Go

The Cathedral of Junk is open often, however, you must call ahead to make an appointment (512-299-7413) or you might end up stuck on the chair of despair. Vince asks for a $5 donation per adult.

It is located in a quiet residential neighborhood just south of Hwy 290. There is street parking available, but please be sure not to block neighbors’ mailboxes or driveways

The cathedral can even be rented for parties, weddings, birthday parties, etc. In fact, in keeping with its name, some couples have even been wed at this unconventional cathedral.

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