"THE IRISH CASTLE"
THE BEVERLY UNITARIAN CHURCH

This foreboding structure in the southside neighborhood of Beverly has been known by several names, from the Givens Mansion to the Irish Castle, to it's present incarnation as the Beverly Unitarian Church.

The house was built in 1886 for Robert Givens, who requested that it resemble the ancient estates of his native Ireland. Legend has it that the house was built for Givens' bride-to-be but she died before she could live there and the as time passed, it was owned by a manufacturer, a doctor and a girl's school before becoming the church in 1942. The Commission for Chicago Landmarks has named the house Chicago's only castle since the Potter Palmer Castle was torn down in the 1950's.

The house was sold to the Unitarian Church in 1942 and in the late 1950's, new additions were constructed for classrooms. Later, they planned to tear down the castle altogether for a new building, but these plans were discarded in 1972 and the church remains in the old castle today.

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The haunting here is said to be caused by a previous occupant from the time when the castle was the Chicago Female College. According to the story, a young girl became ill with a serious case of influenza and died in the early 1930's. The ghost was first encountered in the 1960's by a church custodian who came upon a young girl in a long dress standing in one of the rooms. The two of them chatted for a few minutes and the young girl remarked that the place had changed much since she had lived there. The custodian left the room and then suddenly recalled that the church had been in the building for more than 20 years... the young girl couldn't possibly have lived there!

She ran back to the room, but the girl had vanished! She then searched the entire building, only to find the doors and windows all locked. She even looked outside and discovered that a fresh layer of snow now blanketed the ground... and no footprints led either in or out of the church. 

Many believe that the young girl's fatal illness, and her confused state because of it, led to her spirit lingering behind.... a fact that can be testified to by the church's pastor. In 1994, shortly after she was installed at the church, she saw two small arms embrace her husband's waist. Her husband claimed to feel nothing.

The ghost is also said to appear in the form of what appears to be a candle from outside of the building. The light has been observed passing by the windows and floating up the staircase... while no one was in the castle.

Apart from these occasional visual hauntings, the ghost sometimes makes itself known through unexplainable sounds. Occupants of the building have described it as a "jingling" sound, like the tinkling of glasses and silverware at a dinner party. A former pastor, named Rev. Roger Brewin, stated that he often tried to track down the source of these mysterious sounds but he never could. He said that they seemed to come from everywhere... and yet nowhere... all at the same time!

Beverly, and the Irish Castle, are located on the south side of Chicago at 1044 South Longwood Drive.
 

 

COPYRIGHT 2000 BY TROY TAYLOR. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.