“The castle — the only one in Chicago — is going through a major exterior rehab and work is being done to fix up the its three limestone turrets, which were given the nicknames Papa, Mama and Baby because of their sizes. The turrets (towers) were vulnerable and exposed and if the winds blew hard enough in that area, that could have set back this million-dollar project considerably. There was a sigh of relief among many people involved, including Dolton-based Mark 1 Restoration, when the storm passed without damaging the iconic structure.
“‘The construction company worked hard to protect everything possible,’ said Jean Hardy Robinson, who is in charge of fundraising for the Givins Beverly Castle Restoration Task Force.
“While that storm has passed, the restoration project is still looking for $30,000 in August to help this phase of the project be completed by November. A $30,000 gift was donated anonymously with a dollar-for-dollar provision to match public donations this month. Through a Save the Castle campaign, the project had already been granted $850,000.
“Robert Givins, a real estate developer and writer, had the castle built as his home, and it was completed in 1887, according to “Chicago’s Only Castle,” a 2017 book by Errol Magidson. It became the Chicago Female College in 1895 and was also owned by the Burdett and Siemens families before its current owner, the Beverly Unitarian Church, purchased it in 1942.
“Members of the church have maintained this property and pledged more than $400,000 to this restoration campaign. The rebuild committee has been awarded grants from Landmarks Illinois, the Chicago Adopt-a-Landmark Fund and the Mansueto Foundation. More than 150 individual donors have supported the project. A Rebuild Illinois capital budget grant has been announced, but funds may not be disbursed for several years according to officials.
“The castle has been recognized by the Chicago Landmarks Commission as a contributing structure to the Longwood Drive District. It is also part of the Ridge Historic District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places by the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior.
“Aside from being used as a church, Wilbon said the castle and its property host a preschool, Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, yoga classes, meditation classes, meetings for social justice issues, weddings, parties and concerts. There is even an apartment in the facility. ‘It really is a community resource,’ she said.
“Robinson said she hopes new donors will consider contributing to this August challenge as well as past donors. If the fundraising totals reach $1 million overall there is a chance the castle will have an elevator installed.
“To make a donation online, go to www.givinsbeverlycastle.org. Check donations may be made to the Castle Restoration Fund at 10244 S. Longwood Drive, Chicago IL 60643. Gifts are tax deductible.