In the late 1980s. Austin resident Vince Hannemann took the phrase “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure” quite literally. Hannemann began to construct a fort in his backyard out of discarded items such as license plates, surf boards, street signs, and bicycles. Vince Hannemann didn’t start out with any grand plans for his trash fort that ultimately evolved into a majestic Cathedral of Junk with vaulted ceilings. Hannemann simply wanted a cozy spot to hang out in his backyard, with a roomy chair equipped with a discarded tire as a footrest.
Over the years, Vince Hannemann’s Cathedral of Junk has become quite a sensation. Visitors from around the globe flock to Hannemann’s backyard to spend hours wandering rooms constructed out of discarded odds and ends. Hannemann offers Cathedral of Junk tours for a suggested donation of $5. Hannemann rents out the Cathedral of Junk for weddings, parties, and other events. Cathedral of Junk enthusiasts often bring Hannemann hubcaps, toys, and beer bottles to add to his creation. Hannemann is very selective about which pieces of junk he integrates into his beloved backyard sanctuary.
Most residents of Hannemann’s Austin neighborhood embrace the Cathedral of Junk—largely because it isn’t visible from the street. Tenants of a townhouse with a clear view of Hannemann’s backyard have made several unsuccessful attempts to have the Cathedral of Junk razed. City inspectors have always found the Cathedral of Junk to be structurally sound. Hannemann did demolish the Cathedral of Junk’s prominent three-story tower, only to use the remnants of the tower as a foundation for a few additional rooms. Vince Hannemann says that he will retire his backyard creation one of these days—but for now, the Cathedral of Junk continues to grow. A group of irate townhouse dwellers are no match for a 60-ton structurally sound Cathedral of Junk.
4422 Lareina Drive
Austin, Texas, 78745