The Beverly Area Planning Association’s (BAPA) 2015 Beverly Hills/Morgan Park Home and Garden Tour will be held on Sunday, May 17, from noon to 5 p.m. This year’s tour will showcase a Frank Lloyd Wright American System-Built home that has never been open to the public, four other unique private homes and the historic Givens Castle.

“The home tour is great tradition, and showcasing Beverly Hills/Morgan Park homes never goes out of style,” said Margot Holland, BAPA’s executive director. “Along with a bike route, this year’s tour will also offer “experience activities,” including live music, gardening tips and tricks from experts and more.”

The event will include a variety of experience activities that include tips from an award-winning landscape architect, information on drawing Monarch butterflies to gardens, vendors, music, retro recipes and more.

Home tour tickets are on sale and can be purchased by calling BAPA at (773) 233-3100 or online at Information about the tour, becoming a volunteer or being a sponsor is available by calling (773) 233-3100 or e-mailing

All tours will depart between from the BAPA Community Room, 11109 S. Longwood Drive. Homes open at noon and the church opens at 12:30 p.m.; all locations close promptly at 5 p.m.

The home tour will no longer offer trolleys; people can drive or ride bikes. Maps will be provided.

The H. Howard Hyde House, designated a Chicago landmark in 1994, is one of two American System-Built Houses designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and built in the Beverly Hills/Morgan Park community. According to the City of Chicago Commission on Landmarks, Wright developed a series of prefabricated housing designs marketed under the name “American System-Built Houses.” The two Beverly Hills/Morgan Park houses were to be part of a subdivision that the architect envisioned.

The homes were designed to be affordable and livable and were built by contractors who were specially licensed to build Wright’s American System-Built designs. Wright’s plans for the subdivisions in Chicago and other cities were abandoned after the U.S. entered World War I and they were never completed.

Built for H. Howard Hyde, a cashier at International Harvester, BAPA’s tour marks the first time that the Hyde House will be open to the public. Its current owners have lived in the house for 15 years and have paid close attention to its historic nature while making renovations that allow for today’s family living.

It was not until the 1990s that the two American System-Built homes in Beverly Hills/Morgan Park were identified as Wright’s designs. The second Wright-designed system-built home, the Guy C. Smith house, 10410 S. Hoyne Avenue, has been previously featured on the Beverly Hills/Morgan Park Home Tour and other architecture tours. The two homes are part of the Ridge Historic District, the largest urban historic district on the National Register of Historic Places and are listed on the Register as “prairie style houses contributing to the neighborhood.” They are also Chicago Historic Landmarks.

All of the locations to be showcased on the 2015 Beverly Hills/Morgan Park Home and Garden Tour demonstrate the outstanding quality of housing for which the neighborhood is known. The other featured stops are the following:

•The Blackwelder/Heritage House is a Queen Anne Victorian built in 1873 with an addition in 1887. It was the home of Isaac and Gertrude Blackwelder. Isaac was the president of the Village of Morgan Park, and Gertrude was the first woman in Morgan Park to cast a vote in an election. For many years, the house was owned by the late Jack Simmerling, an artist of international reputation who owned Heritage Gallery in Beverly Hills/Morgan Park. Simmerling raised his family in the house, and also used a sunny upstairs room as his home studio. The house was featured on the first Beverly Hills/Morgan Park Home Tour in 1971. The new owners of the house are true stewards of its history and beauty. On the tour, visitors will view some of Simmerling’s antiques, experience the architectural and decorative beauty of the Victorian era, and enjoy a visit to the home studio which will be reproduced for the tour by Simmerling’s daughter and current owner of The Heritage Gallery.

•At the top of the ridge, not far from the highest point in Chicago, a handsome and spacious North Beverly home will be open for the tour. The house features an unusual open floor plan with a kitchen area, and full wall of sliding doors that open onto a deck with a view of the forest preserve. Among the home’s beautiful appointments are stunning works of art.

•Built in the 1960s on a property that is set atop the hill on one side and descends into a woodland ravine on the other, is a home that was designed to feel like a tree house. The architectural and decorative interior details have been carefully restored—anyone who is a fan of retro décor will be thrilled—in a home where three levels open on to a naturally lit central area that rises to skylights and windows. The back of the home features wall-length sliding doors that overlook the ravine, which has been transformed into a tiered garden.

•A classic Chicago bungalow is the perfect place for decorating ideas inside and out. Updated for a busy young family lifestyle, the owners have also lovingly preserved and restored the features that make bungalows such livable and lovely homes. Winners of a Historic Chicago Bungalow Association 2014 Driehaus Award for landscape design, visitors can enjoy a walk through the house and yard and a chance to talk to the landscape architect and get some advice on what to plant at their own homes.

•The Givens Castle/Beverly Unitarian Church is the community’s best known landmark. Set atop the hill at 103rd Street and Longwood Drive, it was originally built as a residence in the late 1880s. Over its long history, the castle has been used as a home and a school, and for many decades, a church. Many years ago, church members, known as the Castle Keepers, restored the interior woodwork and other details. The castle was the subject of a recent documentary film that was aired on WTTW and screened at small and large venues across the city. Known for their ministries that support “green” practices and social justice, the church will also host vendors offering free trade coffee and earth-friendly products on the afternoon of the tour.

Home tour tickets are on sale and can be purchased by calling BAPA at (773) 233-3100 or online at Information about the tour, becoming a volunteer or being a sponsor is available by calling (773) 233-3100 or e-mailing