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The History of ‘Chicago’s Only Castle’


At the corner of 103rd Street and Longwood Drive in the Beverly community on the South Side sits a medieval-looking building that’s often called “the castle.”

Built in 1886 and 1887, Givins’ Irish Castle was home to the Givins family. In its 125-year history the castle has only had five owners:

• The Givins family (on and off from 1887-1909)
• Julia Thayer and the Chicago Female College (1895-1897)
• The Burdett family (1909-1921)
• The Siemens family (1921-1942)
• Beverly Unitarian Church (1942-present)

A new documentary by filmmaker Errol Magidson, "Chicago's Only Castle: The History of Givins' Irish Castle and Its Keepers."

“The main goals of this production are to preserve the history of the iconic Castle and its five keepers, and to raise money to help preserve and maintain the Castle,” said Magidson.

“This feature-length film captures an important part of Chicago’s history, not only about the building, but also about important events that occurred in Chicago which were associated with the Castle keepers.”

  • This is a 1912 photo from relatives of the Burdett family, who were the second family that owned the castle. (Courtesy of the collection of Suzanne McCormick Savage)

    This is a 1912 photo from relatives of the Burdett family, who were the second family that owned the castle. (Courtesy of the collection of Suzanne McCormick Savage)

  • This photo was in the possession of the Burdett family. (Courtesy of the collection of Suzanne McCormick Savage)

    This photo was in the possession of the Burdett family. (Courtesy of the collection of Suzanne McCormick Savage)

  • This 1926 photo was taken by the Siemens family, the fourth owners of the castle. (Courtesy of Lucinda Foulke)

    This 1926 photo was taken by the Siemens family, the fourth owners of the castle. (Courtesy of Lucinda Foulke)

  • This photo was likely taken by a hydrogen balloon in 1889. The Barnard house and farm are at the bottom of the ridge. (Courtesy of the archives of Beverly Unitarian Church)

    This photo was likely taken by a hydrogen balloon in 1889. The Barnard house and farm are at the bottom of the ridge. (Courtesy of the archives of Beverly Unitarian Church)

  • (Credit: Errol Magidson)

    (Credit: Errol Magidson)

  • Poster for the film using an image of the castle by Lloyd DeGrane.

    Poster for the film using an image of the castle by Lloyd DeGrane.

  • Errol Magidson. (Credit: Patti Ahern)

    Errol Magidson. (Credit: Patti Ahern)

  • A stained glass window in the castle that has the Givins' family coat of arms. It is dedicated to his father, the Rev. Saltern Givins. (Credit: Michael Magidson)

    A stained glass window in the castle that has the Givins' family coat of arms. It is dedicated to his father, the Rev. Saltern Givins. (Credit: Michael Magidson)


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