One Man’s Trash: Vince Hannemann’s Cathedral of Junk

Installation made from discarded items
Installation made from discarded items
Vince Hannemann’s ever-changing work in progress, titled “Cathedral of Junk,” in Austin, Texas

Backyard landscapes vary wildly by homeowners’ taste and style, but one Austin yard stands out as the most unique of all. The aptly named “Cathedral of Junk” towers over the home of folk artist Vince Hannemann, boasting over 60 tons of accumulated trash.

Construction on the cathedral began in 1989 when Hannemann started crafting a structure made from his own discarded items. As word spread, residents began offering up their own junk for his collection. Over the years, the structure included a three-story tower, and today it consists of multiple rooms with sloping archways and thoughtful architecture.

The interior of Cathedral of Junk installation in Austin, Texas.
“Cathedral of Junk” in Austin, Texas. Photo: Thomas Hawk

While some members of the neighborhood aren’t fans of Hannemann’s art, officials have declared the cathedral structurally sound and refuse to cite Hannemann or make him take it down. He was asked by the city to remove a tower of broken televisions from the structure, which he did, and then promptly repurposed into a “Zen Garden of TVs.”

When asked why he constructed his unique project, Hannemann said, “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.”

While the cathedral appears small from the outside, visitors are amazed as they step inside at how vast and spacious it actually is. With vaulted ceilings, observation platforms, and even a “Throne Room,” there is a surprise around every corner.

"Throne Room" in Cathedral of Junk in Austin, Texas
“Throne Room” in Cathedral of Junk in Austin, Texas

There is no charge for admission to the “Cathedral of Junk,” but a small donation is suggested to help offset the cost of maintenance and operations. For those wishing to host a truly memorable event, Hannemann’s cathedral is even available to rent.

“Cathedral of Junk” Art Gallery
Address: 4422 Lareina Drive,
Austin, Texas 78745, USA
Phone: 512-299-7413
By appointment only