Many Southsiders don’t know that we have a real castle in Chicago. The Givins Beverly Castle has three stories, three turrets, and crenellations along the roof line. The Castle is located at 103rd and Longwood Drive, and serves the community in many ways. It’s home to Beverly Unitarian Church, yoga and meditation classes, community groups like Southsiders for Peace, community forums on important issues, the Beverly Castle Preschool, traditional holiday events like Christmas tree sales and breakfasts with Santa, and environmental projects such as hazardous waste and electronics collections. The Castle has also been the site for hundreds of weddings and family celebrations since the mid-twentieth century.
Built in 1886 and 1887, the Givins Beverly Castle is an important part of Chicago’s Longwood Drive Historic District. The Castle benefitted from major renovations in 2020 and 2021 to restore the safety of the limestone turrets and parapets, and to ensure the preservation of this iconic structure. A successful grassroots fundraising campaign with a $1 million goal confirmed the significance of the Castle to the more than 200 individual donors from the city and suburbs, and the broader historic preservation community. That restoration project has been completed, and earned a “Chicago Landmark Award for Preservation Excellence” as a result. t.
There are many opportunities to visit the Givins Beverly Castle. Several thousand people toured the inside during Open House Chicago weekends in 2018 and 2019. During the pandemic, Open House Chicago visitors were restricted to the outside of the “Castle on the Hill,” but groups are once again meeting inside with COVID safety precautions in place, and it will part of this year’s Open House in October..
Chicago’s Only Castle by Errol Magidson, available at Bookie’s on Western Ave., provides an extensive history of the families who called the Castle home, the girls’ school that occupied the building in the late nineteenth century, and the Unitarian Church whose members have been “Castle Keepers” since 1942. There are, of course, plenty of rumors of ghosts that have intrigued paranormal investigators—the book describes these tales as well. A second edition of Chicago’s Only Castle is expected this fall. (Jean Hardy Robinson)
Givins Beverly Castle, 10255 S. Seeley Ave. chicagosonlycastle.org