The Givins Castle, the iconic landmark at 103rd Street and Longwood Drive, is more than 130 years old, and it has structural problems that members of Beverly Unitarian Church (BUC), owner of the historic building, are working to repair with funding from donations.
The BUC Castle Restoration Fund has a goal of at least $800,000, half of which BUC members have already raised, and now the fund will receive a major boost.
As part of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s $45-billion Rebuild Illinois construction plan, which he signed on June 5, the Castle will receive $300,000.
For Jean Robinson, who has been leading the fundraising efforts, the state money is a big help in repairing the Castle.
“That’s wonderful news,” Robinson said. “That’s the biggest good news that we’ve had.”
Several local churches, agencies and schools will benefit from Rebuild Illinois, most of them receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars. Funds must be used for “brick and mortar” projects.
According to state Rep. Fran Hurley (D-35th), funds designated for the Castle are listed in the section of the bill referencing renovations for Chicago landmark buildings, and she confirmed those funds will be used for the Castle.
The Castle, 10244 S. Longwood Dr., was built in 1886 by Robert Givins, a successful real estate developer, and is considered “Chicago’s only castle.”
However, the building needs major repairs, according to BUC officials. In April 2017, two cracks were found in the masonry of its southeast turret, and three metal bands were installed around its top portion to stabilize the turret.
Robinson said a second turret is also damaged, and a needs assessment determined that both should be rebuilt.
The BUC also wants to make roof repairs and “additional enhancements to the property.”
Working with 19th Ward Ald. Matt O’Shea and the Beverly Area Planning Association, the BUC launched fundraising efforts, supported in part with a concert series that ran from last October through April.
Beverly/Morgan Park was part the Chicago Architecture Center’s annual Open House Chicago for the first time in October, and Robinson said 3,000 people visited the Castle.
She said a series of three-year pledges will provide over $400,000. She also said Calvary Lutheran Church, which closed in Mt. Greenwood earlier this year, donated $10,000.
The BUC received bids from prospective construction companies on June 21, and Robinson estimated most would range from $800,000 to $1 million to complete the needed repairs.
She said “the word’s getting out” regarding the fundraising campaign, and she is grateful for local support.
However, despite the state funding, the BUC will still need donations from local residents to complete the project.
“We need to ask them,” she said, “in a good personal way.”
Other local beneficiaries of Rebuild Illinois include A New Direction Beverly Morgan Park ($100,000), which supports victims of domestic violence; Sertoma Centre, Inc. ($100,000), of Alsip, and Garden Center Services ($100,000), of Mt. Greenwood, both of which serve people with special needs; the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences ($25,000), which will install a dog park; Barbara Vick Early Childhood and Family Center ($200,000), a school in Morgan Park that serves students with special needs; Marist ($300,000) and Leo ($100,000) high schools; St. Xavier University ($140,000); St. Christina Roman Catholic Church ($300,000); and Chicago Park District facilities in the 19th Ward ($435,000).
Sertoma officials said they will use funds to repair and update homes used for their clients.
Garden Center Services will make improvements to its community integrated living arrangements, including a roof, windows, bathrooms, a workshop and driveways.
St. Christina’s funding will go toward its Together We Build program, which will update campus buildings.
Marist President Br. Hank Hammer said in a statement that school officials are “reviewing our campus master plan to assess and prioritize projects that will meet the specifications of the funding and best serve our students and the community.”
Michael Passman, CPS spokesperson, said in a statement that he is grateful Barbara Vick received funding but did not specify how the funds will be used.
“As CPS and the city of Chicago work to modernize schools throughout Chicago, we are grateful for the state’s significant commitment to our capital improvement efforts,” he said. “We will work with our state counterparts to help move these initiatives forward, and we thank them for their support.”
A St. Xavier official said funds will be used “to upgrade our facilities and ensure campus safety.”
How funds will be used at the other organizations has not been announced.
Several nearby suburbs will also receive funding, including Evergreen Park and Merrionette Park.