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.

Chicago’s haunted cemeteries

Graceland Cemetery: On Chicago’s North Side, Inez Clarke is suppose to haunt the cemetery and has for several decades. A little girl that has been seen wandering the cemetery grounds. As the stories were told, it was the ghost of a little girl who had died in a lightening storm, while spending time outside at a family picnic, when she was six years old. However, according to Prairie Ghosts and a cemetery expert, no Inez Clarke has ever been buried at Graceland. He also looked up US Census records and found that no child existed at all.  Other supernatural stories exist at Graceland that include the Statue of Death where it has been said that if you look into the scary face of the statue, you may see what your own death in the future will be!

Rosehill Cemetery: Beginning in 1859, Rosehill is the largest and oldest cemetery in Chicago occupying over 330 acres of land and located at 5800 North Ravenswood Avenune. According to the Ghost Research Society, the most recent sighting of an apparition occurred in October of 1995 when a grounds keeper burst into the administration building around eight o’clock in the evening swearing that he had seen a strange figure of a woman on the grounds. She had been standing by a tree near the Peterson Avenue wall. As he began to walk towards her to find out what was wrong, he suddenly froze in his tracks. The apparition seemed to be floating wearing a vintage dress! The ghost disappeared into a mist and it was only then that he was able to move; hurrying to the administration building. Here, he made a report of what he saw. The very next day a phone call was received by the Rosehill office from a woman calling from Des Plaines who said that her deceased aunt had made a nocturnal visit. Her aunt was complaining to her that she had not been properly remembered and that no grave marker adorned her burial plot. She ordered a monument for her aunt, Carrie Kalbas, and since that day, no ghostly sightings have been reported. The Ghost Research Society has electronically visited many haunted sites in the cemetery but have found nothing so far.

Mt Carmel: Currently an active cemetery, Mt Carmel is a Roman Catholic cemetery located in the Chicago suburb of Hillside, Illinois. The most recent famous interment was the body of Cardinal Joseph Bernardine after his death in 1996 from liver and pancreatic cancer.  Mt Carmel is also the final resting place of gangster, Al Capone and many have claimed to see his ghost by his gravestone. Julie Petta, who died in childbirth, is also a famous ghost to walk the lawns of Mt Carmel also known as the Italian bride. Julia, it is said, died either in childbirth or on her wedding night. As legend has it, her mother was abused with nightmares from Julia that her grave be opened. After six years, Mother finally had her body exhumed and surprisingly, she was in great condition. The Mother was allowed to to build her a massive monument. According to The order of the good death, the monument to Julia was financed by her brother in 1927, six years after her death to celebrate her unusual death.

Holy Sepulchre: My aunt and uncle were buried at Holy Sepulchre, a beautiful Catholic Cemetery in Alsip. But the cemetery is also home to the legend of Mary Alice Quinn, known as Chicago’s Miracle Child. Mary died when she was 14 and was buried in the Reilly family plot but prior to her death, she was a natural healer. Those that visited her grave saw apparitions and smelt roses even in the winter time according to sources. The late Mayor Richard J. Daley is buried in Section 19, near the cemetery entrance on 111th Street.  The same section also contains the burial place of Dan Ryan, long time Cook County Board President after whom the Dan Ryan Expressway is named.  Helen Morgan, famous blues singer is interred in Section 14 and more than 500 priests, brothers and sisters are also interred according to the Ghost Research Society. A number of car accidents have occurred on the 111th side of the cemetery but most have been explained.

Resurrection Cemetery: Check out this article that I published last year about Mary  https://karlasullivandotcom.wordpress.com/2017/09/20/chicagos-most-popular-ghost-resurrection-mary/

Bachelors Grove: Check out this article also published last year https://karlasullivandotcom.wordpress.com/2017/09/26/chicagos-most-haunted-bachelors-grove/

Ten of the most haunted colleges in Illinois

Loyola University:    A little over a decade in the early 1900’s when the Chicago Jesuit-affiliated school was known as St. Ignatius College, were the beginnings of a relationship between a nun and Jesuit priest. Apparently, the nun fell pregnant and, the devastated sister reportedly hanged herself on the 14th floor of what is now the school’s Mundelein Center for Fine and Performing Arts (previously Mundelein College). The priest later discovered the nun’s body and was so upset, he committed suicide by jumping out of a window. Students have since reported a flickering glow from the same window. Some have also heard strange sounds like a humming from the room where the nun had hung herself. Others after taking pictures have seen glowing orbs in the photographs.

Benedictine University:  In Lisle, at one point, the University was closed because of so many haunting s. One ghost is a boy in a blue shirt and shorts who wanders the campus and then disappears. According to sources, Jaeger Hall is haunted with children. Two ghost children were actually photographed in Neuzil hall. The campus was originally an orphanage and a girl had drowned in a lake on the grounds.

Rockford University(College): Like many colleges, there are several places on campus that are haunted. Clark Art Center, which is home to two theaters, have had witnesses see lights flicker in the back stage areas as well as hear a bell in the prop room chime on its own. The Adams Arch is actually the doorway to the old Adams Hall building, which was built in 1891 and is another famous place to hear the ghostly laughter of a girl when you are standing under it.

Morton College: In Cicero, just outside of Chicago, many claim that the college is haunted by a young girl who was killed on the Laramie Bridge, not far from the college. According to sources, security have actually seen the ghost of Emily on various rooftops of the college. Others have heard her cry out in the theatre.

Western Illinois University: Numerous hauntings have taken place due to many who committed suicide at the University. Ghosts have been found at Bayliss Hall, Simpkins Hall,Tanner, Thomson and Washington Hall. In 1972, a young man fell down an elevator shaft and his image has been seen today. Many students have observed flickering lights, cold spots, strange noises as well as floating images.

Southern Illinois University: Many books have been published about the hauntings in several buildings of SIU. Wheeler Hall, which was once the university’s library, and Shryock Auditorium are haunted as well. It has been named one of the top 50 haunted colleges throughout the United States. A former mental health institution and nursing home was purchased by the school in 1957. After being called Building 207, it was demolished in 2013 but click on the link for more information concerning the graves that exist today.

University of Illinois In Champaign, the library has been haunted which moved to its current location in 1928. Many believe the main stacks are sinking and images have been seen within them. The Lincoln building has a ghost located on the third floor which is next to the English building which used to be a women’s dormitory where a lady committed suicide. Flashing lights and slamming doors have been seen as well as ghostly visits in the Psychology building.

Milikin University:   James Milikin received a charter to build the Decatur University in 1901 and was to be an off shoot of Lincoln College in Lincoln. It is said that its theater has a ghost called the rail girl probably one of the colleges most popular ghosts. There have been numerous reports of strange sounds and footsteps in the theater. Stagehands and set designers have dealt with disappearance of props used during productions. Generally, tools are missing all the time.  There are also hauntings at the Old Gymnasium that was established in 1911.

Lincoln College: In Lincoln,  the college is rumored to have ghosts in the University Hall that was built in 1866. Mist forms on windows and an actual face was seen in the bell tower. A boy and girl passed away in the late 1800s and many feel that their ghost images remain at the college. In Olin Sang Hall, electronic equipment has been tampered.

Illinois College: In Jacksonville, Illinois was founded in 1829. Ralph Waldo Emerson and Mark Twain were lecturers at the college during the early years. Illinois College was also known as a station for the Underground railroad and there were many famous graduates over the years such as William Jennings Byan. Beecher Hall claims to be haunted today with the footsteps of Bryan or Abraham Lincoln since he spoke at the college often. Effie Smith often haunts the Smith house. There are many other buildings on campus were lights turn off and on without explanation and images vanish in closets.

 

 

Chicago’s Most Haunted Houses: Hull House and Glessner House

The Jane Addams Hull House Museum is worth a trip to see whether are looking for a ghost or not. Jane Addams founded, with Ellen Gates Starr, the world famous Hull House on Chicago’s west side. Jane Addams lived their until her death in 1935 where she established a kindergarten and day care facilities for children of working mothers as well as providing classes. Some of the classes included preparing for citizenship, theater, music and art.

The Museum is located in two of the original settlement house buildings- the Hull Home, a National Historic Landmark, and the Residents’ Dining Hall, a beautiful Arts and Crafts building that has welcomed some of the world’s most important thinkers, artists and activists. Located on the second floor of the Residents’ Dining Hall, the museum’s gift shop has a range of ecologically and socially sustainable gifts including all natural hand soap, t-shirts, books about Jane Addams and the Reformers of Hull-House, and other items that you can only find at Hull-House.

The Museum is closed on Mondays and Saturdays and public tours are available without a reservation unless you have a group of ten or more.  Hull House Museum is located at the University of Illinois /Chicago at 800 S. Halsted.

According to Prairie Ghosts, at the time that Jane Addams took over Hull house she thought it was haunted and writes about this in her book Twenty Years at Hull House. She had heard loud footsteps in her room which was where the previous own Mrs. Charles Hull had passed away and she then took a different room.  Local legend claims that a deformed baby was born in the houses called the Devil baby and some claim to have seen the ghostly figure of the disfigured child who was suppose to have horns. The movie Rosemary’s Baby actually was created from the parts of this legend.

Over the years, I have enjoyed strolling Prairie Avenue in Chicago and reading about the life and times of the rich and famous during the late 1880’s, researching stories of Marshall Field, who lived in a six block section of the street only for the elite. This also included George Pullman, John Glessner and Pillip Armour. Prairie avenue was sometimes called Milionaires row and the beautiful Glessner House/Museum still stands and available for tours.

Glessner House was designed by noted American architect Henry Hobson Richardson and completed in 1887. So different from the Victorian houses that were being built at the time and eventually those, for the most part, were torn down. The House is a National Historic Landmark and offers wonderful tours with many of the rooms accurately restored to their original appearance and decorative objects and furnishings have been added by the Glessner family. John Glessner lived there until 1936 and thousands tour the house every year.

However, is a ghost and many visitors continue to see his apparition.

Henry Hobson Richardson never got to see his creation built since he died after he completed the blue prints. Many have seen him walk the halls. Even during the time the Glessner family lived there, Haunted houses.com  claim that many family member felt a cold presence moving through the mansion,even today.

The Glessner House Museum offers haunted tours of historic Prairie Avenue. Director of the Glessner House has admitted that there is a strange feeling that has been experienced on the street. The Keith House, privately owned by Marcy Baim, is another on the street. It has been restored, at 1900 Prairie and offers special events such as weddings.

Many say it is haunted too.

Chicago’s Most Haunted: The Congress Hotel / H.H. Holmes Murder Castle

What’s great about the Congress Hotel, one of the most haunted in Chicago, is you can go there, rent a room and stay the night.  Rates for rooms are not outrageous and you can spend as much time as you want to catch pictures of ghosts. They actually host a Haunted Halloween Ball at the Congress at 520 Michigan Avenue.

Originally constructed in 1893, the Congress Plaza Hotel featured cobbled streets, gaslights, and horse drawn carriages. The hotel was originally called the Auditorium Annex when it opened to house the throngs of visitors to the World’s Colombian Exposition.

Many famous people and presidents have stayed at the Congress which include Grover Cleveland, Teddy Roosevelt, and Franklin Roosevelt. And the most visible ghosts include Peg Leg Johnny who was murdered, a workman who was buried behind the walls in the balcony of the glorious Gold Room. The Gold Room and Florentine Room are still beautiful spots for special occasion parties and weddings.

The six floor has been known to have some strange experiences as well as the 12th floor where a mother and her children committed suicide throwing themselves out a window. Staff have claimed that one room is so dangerously haunted…they had to seal the room and no one will go near it.  Supposedly, one of the most haunted rooms of all is 441 and remember, it is not locked forever….you can stay there.

Another bizarre story at the Congress is that of the ghost, Dr. Henry H. Holmes who wanders the hallways looking for woman to to enrapture in his arms and murder at his Murder Castle. His real name was Herman Mudgett, Chicago’s first serial murderer, who went to work in a drugstore owned by Dr. E.S. Holton, in Englewood, a suburb of Chicago that is now part of the city.

And it was here Holmes would draw in young woman and visitors from the Fair. Missing woman were reported and some have said that Holmes had killed 27 women and other reports include even more even though there is no conclusive evidence of how many he killed. In July 1895, Chicago police and reporters began investigating Holmes’ building in Englewood, now locally referred to as “The Castle”. Though many sensational claims were made, no evidence was found which could have convicted Holmes in Chicago.

According to Exploring Illinois, Holmes, who graduated from the University of Michigan Medical School, had already racked up a fairly impressive resume of fraud, forgery and petty theft by this time, including, while still a med student, taking out insurance policies on cadavers he stole from the school. Holmes, though, was a hard worker at the drugstore and eventually bought it.

Holmes purchased an empty lot across from the drugstore, where construction began in 1887 for a two story mixed-use building, with apartments on the second floor and retail spaces, including a new drugstore,on the first. When Holmes declined to pay the architects or the steel company, Aetna Iron and Steel, they sued in 1888.[5]

In October 1895, Holmes was put on trial for the murder of Benjamin Pitezel, and was found guilty and sentenced to death. By then, it was evident that Holmes had also murdered the Pitezel children according to a Philadephia detective who found the children and had followed Holmes.

What was the murder castle like? According to Prairie Ghosts, the second floor however, proved to be a labyrinth of narrow, winding passages with doors that opened to brick walls, hidden stairways, concealed doors, blind hallways, secret panels, hidden passages and a clandestine vault that was only a big enough for a person to stand in. The room was alleged to be a homemade “gas chamber”, equipped with a chute that would carry a body directly into the basement. The basement was a chamber of death with devises and materials that indicated torture and murder.

The murder castle is no longer there and a post office remains in its original location but the story is well-documented in Erik Larsen’s, Devil in the White City and Leonardo Di Caprio plays Holmes in the movie. However, staff at the post office have seen strange sightings in the basement.