As the historian of the Ridge Historical Society, I’ve noticed something interesting.
If you sit in a room full of people from the Beverly/Morgan Park neighborhood, you’ll be surprised at how many have a special personal connection to “The Castle,” located at the corner of 103rd Street and Longwood Drive.
At a recent meeting with members of the Kiwanis Club of Southwest Chicago, I was discussing the deterioration of the limestone turrets on the Givins Castle in hopes of garnering a donation for their restoration.
In our discussion, I heard many memories.
“I always buy my Christmas trees there,” one person said, and a person serving our table said, “I went to preschool there. Let me know if there’s a fundraiser!”
Many couples have been married within and without the structure’s lovely limestone walls—not because it’s their church, but because it’s The Castle.
For those who haven’t heard, serious cracks have developed in the limestone turrets of the more than 130-year-old Castle, and a good deal of specialized repair is necessary to get the whole into shape—and soon.
However, it’s going to be expensive.
I’m hoping everyone in the community will stop and think about our Castle. Imagine it with its towers removed or the building gone completely, and then seriously consider contributing in some way.
This is a treasure we have here in our fold—“Chicago’s Only Castle,” as the saying has gone for many years. For over 13 decades, the Givins Castle has added distinctive charm and character to this neighborhood’s beautiful Ridge.
Since 1941, Beverly Unitarian Church members have done a yeoman’s job of maintaining the Castle, and they are currently trying to shoulder as much of the burden as possible to meet this new challenge. The congregation has already committed to just over half of the $800,000 required for the repairs, but they cannot do it alone.
And frankly, considering how much residents of Beverly Hills/Morgan Park love this local icon, I think they should join the effort to save a historic landmark.
Errol Magidson and I worked on a documentary and then a book about the Castle, “Chicago’s Only Castle: the History of Givins’ Irish Castle and its Keepers.” Proceeds of both are now donated to the Castle Restoration Fund in perpetuity.
Many times, people don’t donate to churches other than their own, but please realize that contributions to restore the turrets go directly to this preservation effort alone; the funds and project are only managed by the church for the benefit of us all.
Citizens usually have little or no voice when it comes to saving a historic building. By the time they hear the news, the death warrant has already been signed. By donating, local residents can have that rare opportunity to participate in the process of historic preservation.
To learn more or to donate to the effort, visit the website at givinsbeverlycastle.org.
Donations can be sent to the Castle Restoration Fund, 10244 S. Longwood Dr., Chicago IL 60643.
Please, help us tip the scales and save a special landmark, the Castle.