Touring with Terrell: Inside the Givins Castle in Beverly

ByTerrell Brown and Poinesha Barnes WLS logo
Friday, November 10, 2023
Touring with Terrell: Inside Chicago's only castle
The Givins Castle in Beverly is one the oldest treasures on Chicago's South Side.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Nestled on a hill in Chicago's Beverly neighborhood sits a work of architectural majesty dubbed "Chicago's Only Castle."

ABC7 has been exploring the architectural wonders of the city and Givins Castle is one to be admired for its structural and historical significance.

Givins Castle is one the oldest treasures on Chicago's South Side.

"It was the brainchild of Robert Cartwright Givins," historian Linda Lamberty said.

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Historians say Givins built the castle sometime between 1886 and 1887as a private residence at 103rd Street and Longwood Drive.

"He was a real character, real estate developer promoter, novelist," Lamberty said.

More than a century later, it's now home to the Beverly Unitarian Church.

"The church has been here for 81 years this coming December,: Beth O'Grady, chair of the board of trustees for the Beverly Unitarian Church. "It was purchased in 1942 for $14,000...It's meant different things over the years. At first, I was kind of astonished that a church was in a castle. It just didn't seem, you know, congruous, shall we say?

The building is an icon in the community. But, the structure faced trouble along the way with some of its most notable features- the turrets, these smaller towers atop larger towers.

"They're lime stones," O'Grady said. "They're huge, they're heavy, but they also are porous and they become loose and can fall out."

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Up on the roof of Givins Castle, there are three turrets and there were cracks discovered in them. They were so much of a safety concern there was a point in time that they might have to come down. The congregation came together and raised just under half the money needed for restoration and here's what they look like today.

The total project cost $1 million. The turrets are repaired and the church can continue its work in the community.

"From a historian standpoint, looking forward, this restoration of the towers was so important because now if this place can continue to keep moving forward," Lamberty said.

"We are working hard through developing our leadership to really have this church be a beacon in this community, not just of architectural uniqueness, but also to just try and make the world a better place," O'Grady said.

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The castle's restoration efforts earned a "Chicago Landmark Award for Preservation Excellence!"

Our last "Touring with Terrell" for this month, airs next Friday. So, tune in, as we go inside the Salt Shed!