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Haunted Irish Castle still stands in Chicago

Ghost lurked in the old Irish Castle of Chicago
Ghost lurked in the old Irish Castle of Chicago
Courtesy of Flickr

The Irish Castle was built between 1886 and 1887 under the guidance of Robert. C. Givins. He was a successful real estate developer and “Renaissance Man.” The legend states that Givins sketched an ivy-covered, medieval castle situated on the River Dee of his ancestral Ireland between Dublin and Belfast.

He built his three-story castle on a ridge overlooking Longwood Drive. It was built of limestone from the nearby Joliet quarries on 3.5 acres of land. The fifteen beautifully furnished rooms were decorated with rich tapestries, elegant chandeliers, and big copper gaslights; they were warmed with tiled fireplaces and were lit with stained glass windows. Al window on the second floor, which bears the motto Dum Spiro Spero, or “While I breathe, I hope”, was dedicated to the Rev. Saltern Givins, Robert C. Givins' father.

Through the years there have been five important Castle Keepers: the Givins family, the Chicago Female College, the Burdett family, the Siemens family, and Beverly Unitarian Church. The Givins family lived there on and off from 1887 to 1909. The Chicago Female College rented the Castle from 1895 to 1897. The Burdett family lived in the Castle from 1909 to 1921. John B. Burdett and his wife Jessie had the Castle wired for electricity, installed additional radiators, and added an elegant porte-cochere onto its north side. Dr. Miroslaw Siemens, a prominent physician, and wife Bonnie purchased the Castle in 1921. Dr. Siemens was a founder of the Ukrainian National Museum and led the committee that established the Ukrainian Pavilion of the Chicago World’s Fair of 1933-34. The Siemens family lived in the Castle from 1921 to 1942, when the Castle was purchased by Beverly Unitarian Fellowship.

There have been several sightings of a wee ghost with a brogue at the Irish Castle through the years. They say the ghost is a little Irish girl named Colleen who appears in a long, white dress. The three-turreted castle area is said to emit mysterious party sounds.

The strange sightings began in the 1960’s when a church custodian noticed the young girl in the long dress standing in one of the rooms. The mysterious girl remarked how the place looked very different since the time she lived there. The girl suddenly vanished. Some believe the girl died in the early years from a serious case of influenza when the castle was the Chicago Female College.

Those living in the area have reported seeing a candle floating across windows and up the staircase when the castle is unoccupied. The church pastor noted he was touched by unseen hands. Many claim to have heard the clinking of glasses as though a gala party was being held on the upper floors when no such event was scheduled.

The Irish Castle is also known as the Givins Castle and/or the Beverly Unitarian Church. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

You can visit the Irish Castle now known as the Beverly Unitarian Church at:
10244 S Longwood Drive
Chicago, IL 60643

Haunted Places Examiner: Debe Branning

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