Chicago’s only Irish castle

I have attended a wedding back in the 1980’s. My mother lived not far from the castle during her elementary years of school in Beverly.  The castle was built on Longwood drive and 103rd, three stories high, with crenelated towers of limestone. Known as the Givens Castle, it was to look like a real Irish Castle from Dublin.

The south side Chicago castle was built between 1866-1867 under the direction of Robert C. Givins. According to Beverly Unitarian Church Fellowship, which purchased the church in 1942,  originally the castle had fifteen beautifully furnished rooms. They were decorated with rich tapestries, elegant chandeliers, and big copper gaslights; they were warmed with tiled fireplaces and were lit with stained glass windows.

There were five owners, or some say, castle keepers of the building. The Givins family, the Chicago Female College, the Burdett family, the Siemens family, and finally Beverly Unitarian Church. The Givins family lived there on and off from 1887 to 1909. The Chicago Female College, a prestigious high school for girls, rented the Castle from 1895 to 1897. The Burdett family lived in the Castle from 1909 to 1921. The Siemens family lived in the Castle from 1921 to 1942. Today, the Commission for Chicago Landmarks have claimed the house as Chicago’s only castle.

But after my mother would drive me by her old home in Beverly in the 1960’s, she would take me by the castle and claim,that it was haunted, according to her father. We attended a wedding together in later years and I didn’t see a ghost, neither did she, but some still claim that within the castle, they have heard mysterious sounds such as the tinkling of glasses with no logical reason.

According to Prairie Ghosts and my Mom, a young girl had died from the flu back in the 1930’s when the castle was owned by the Chicago Female College. In the early 1960’s,the janitor of the church saw a young girl and actually talked to her. She seemed confused and mentioned that the church was not the  same. The custodian was sitting with her and then got up to walk away, turned back to approach the young girl and she was gone.  Legend and my Mom claim that this girl was the ghost of the one who died and was in shock, especially not realizing that this castle was now a church. The custodian searched everywhere and the girl was not found, even footsteps in the snow outside did not appear that day.

Beverly Hills Chicago,then and now

Located on the southwestern edge of Chicago, my mother grew up in Beverly during the early 1920’s and 1930’s moving to Deland, Florida for her high school years in 1935. Her father worked for Illinois Bell and she would meet him at the 95th street train station Rock Island Railroad and walk home together along Longwood drive. There home was tiny compared to most. Father was in an executive position at Illinois Bell but a frugal man.

In the 1960’s, it was Beverly where my Aunt worked at Morris B Sachs on the corner of 95th and Western. It was in Beverly on 95th where my Mother bought my first French walnut bedroom set with desk and hutch that I still have.  Wilson Jump was one of the many vanished furniture stores.

My best friend and I would ride the bus down 95th west, passing Beverly, crossing Western into Evergreen Park where we exited into the shopping mall which is still there but stores have changed. I can remember visiting Mary Jane Shoes, Lyttons, Chas A Stevens and,of courses Carson which is still there but remodeled. My aunt worked there too.

Unfortunately, I also remember Beverly where my fathers funeral and wake took place in 1967 and the funeral home is now a health food store.

Today, Beverly is still a beautiful area with street lamps trimming 95th street, its major thorough fare. Beverly features prestigious, architecturally designed homes which includes the famous Frank Lloyd Wright and George Washington Maher. Many are featured on the historic Longwood Drive where your will now find the Beverly Unitarian Church which was once a resident castle built in 1886.  This house at 10200 S. Longwood Drive was built in 1890 by Horace Horton, the owner of Chicago Bridge and Iron Company.

Open since 1942, Top Notch Beefburger is another great place to stop for a burger and a shake. The burgers are ground daily and come on a toasted bun.  Oreo shakes are an excellent choice along with fresh, cut fries.

If you are just looking to have dessert, at Western and 92nd street is a place your should never miss during the spring and summer months; the Original Rainbow Cone Ice Cream that opens March 4th.  Josep Sapp worked as a Buick mechanic by day and operated a small rainbow cone ice cream shop in 1926, the same location it is today.

At the time, this area was not considered Chicago, however, there were century old cemeteries that Chicagoan’s liked to visit and guess were they would stop for a cone on their way back to the city. The original rainbow cone consists of chocolate, strawberry, Palmer House, pistachio and orange sherbet.