Phantasmagoria Features: Irish Castle
By Corey Schjoth
Robert C. Givins, a successful real estate developer, drew the Irish Castle in Chicago entirely from memory. The three-story castle was built in 1886, designed with nothing more than a hand sketch of a castle from the designer's ancestral home of Ireland, the building was constructed out of limestone from a nearby quarry and was situated on a hill overlooking Longwood Drive. Three crenelated towers pay homage to the medieval castle on the River Dee, between Dublin and Belfast in Ireland. The house's fifteen rooms were decorated with tapestries, ornate chandeliers, copper gaslights, tiled fireplaces and stained glass windows.
The Givins family lived periodically in the house until 1909. During that time the Chicago Female College rented the castle from 1895 to 1896. After the Givins left, John B. Burdett and his wife Jessie bought the house and added electricity and installed additional amenities of that time. They lived there until 1921. Later Dr. Miroslaw Siemens, a prominent physician, lived in the house until 1942, after which time the house was purchased by Beverly Unitarian Fellowship and extensive remolding began changing the look of the interior.
The first sightings and strange activity began in the 1960s when a church custodian making her cleaning rounds noticed a young girl in a long dress standing in one of the rooms. The custodian approached and the girl remarked how the place had looked so different since she had lived there. The custodian left the room, then realizing how strange the remark was because no one lived in the castle in over 20 years. The custodian returned to the room finding the girl had vanished.
The phantom is believed to be a girl who died in the early 1930s from a serious case of influenza during the time that house was the Chicago Female College.
There are other more recent occurrences. Late at night a light from a candle has been seen floating across windows and up the staircase when the castle is unoccupied. The church's pastor was even touched by unseen arms. Strange sounds of clinking of flatware and glasses like sounds from a party have been heard despite no one having such an event.
When we found that Chicago had its own haunted castle we became very excited and immediately wanted to go visit to get some photographs. As we were in Chicago during a family vacation in late spring, we decided to make a quick drive over and take a look at the castle.
Late in the day we finally found the church after driving through some very interesting (!) neighborhoods. As we looked up we admired the imposing structure that was set back from the road, its dark windows felt like eyes staring at us. We remained taking pictures until the light faded, happy that we had chosen to make our stop to explore this fascinating location and its legends.
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