Ridge Historical Society

Ridge Historical Society RHS is non-profit historical society and archive for the Beverly, Morgan Park and Mount Greenwood neighborhoods on Chicago's southwest side.
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RHS was founded in 1971 and is located in a historic mansion on the ridge, the Graver-Driscoll House, located on Longwood Drive, the major thoroughfare which runs the length of the ridge. RHS is primarily volunteer-driven, with a Board of Directors elected annually by the membership. RHS has accumulated a vast variety of materials from the earliest recorded history of the area to present times. Holdings include community newspapers, church bulletins, scrapbooks, family manuscript collections, historical real estate listings, maps, photographs, glass slides, historic costumes, textiles and physicalo artifacts. The collections are available to the public through exhibits, outreach programs, the website (undergoing revision) and research requests.

RHS was founded in 1971 and is located in a historic mansion on the ridge, the Graver-Driscoll House, located on Longwood Drive, the major thoroughfare which runs the length of the ridge. RHS is primarily volunteer-driven, with a Board of Directors elected annually by the membership. RHS has accumulated a vast variety of materials from the earliest recorded history of the area to present times. Holdings include community newspapers, church bulletins, scrapbooks, family manuscript collections, historical real estate listings, maps, photographs, glass slides, historic costumes, textiles and physicalo artifacts. The collections are available to the public through exhibits, outreach programs, the website (undergoing revision) and research requests.

Mission: RHS is a not-for-profit 501(C)3 organization. The mission is to collect, preserve and make available to the public, documents, photographs, newspapers, artifacts and other materials related to the history of the Chicago communities of Beverly Hills, Morgan Park, and Washington Heights located along the area known as the Blue Island Ridge; to encourage interest in the history of this area; and to present educational programs and exhibits of the collection.

Operating as usual

The Ridge Historical SocietyAll Saints Day, November 1, 2020By Carol FlynnToday is All Saints Day or the Feast of All Sa...
11/02/2020

The Ridge Historical Society
All Saints Day, November 1, 2020
By Carol Flynn

Today is All Saints Day or the Feast of All Saints. The date was set by Pope Gregory III during his pontificate in the years 731-741.

In some churches (Catholic, Lutheran, Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox), anyone who has died and gone to Heaven is considered a saint. Some saints are considered worthy of greater honor because of their exceptional holiness or closeness to God. Some of these saints have individual feast days, but most do not. The Catholic Church has recognized more than 10,000 saints, but some names and stories have been lost to history. And some names were never recorded, such as people who died in groups as martyrs.

The intent of All Saints Day is to recognize all these people, known and unknown.

Some saints are designated as “patron saints” or advocates for places, occupations or crafts, causes, and situations. It is believed that patron saints can intercede on behalf of the needs of their charges.

The Ridge communities have several churches named for saints. One saint who is particularly relevant today as people struggle with the realities of the global coronavirus pandemic is St. Cajetan, the patron saint of the unemployed and job seekers.

Since the pandemic started, tens of millions of people have lost their jobs. In March and April of this year, 22 million nonfarm jobs were slashed. Although the situation started to improve in late summer, employment still remains about 11 million jobs below pre-pandemic days, and many temporary layoffs have become permanent. In a study in mid-October, nearly 78 million people reported difficulty in covering usual expenses.

St. Cajetan, Gaetano dei Conti di Thiene (1480-1547), was born into a wealthy, noble family in Venice. He completed a law degree and worked as a diplomat for Pope Julius II. When Julius died, Cajetan resigned and entered the seminary, and was ordained a priest in 1516. He spent the rest of his life tending to the sick and poor, giving up his own worldly goods to help them. He established several hospitals for incurables during the years of the bubonic plague.

Cajetan recognized that people who had lost their livelihoods often became victims of desperation. He believed in the dignity of all people. He helped the unemployed through financial assistance and providing the basic necessities of life. In Naples, he founded a charitable non-profit bank/credit organization to protect the poor from usury, that is, exorbitant rates of interest. Wealthy benefactors donated to his cause and Cajetan took no money for his efforts. The bank provided loans without interest that people secured with personal objects. Job training and employment opportunities were also offered through the bank.

St. Cajetan is also the patron saint of Argentina. There they call him the patron of “Bread and Work.” He is presented two ways in art. One image depicts him with a book, to signify learning, and white lily, which represents Mary. The other presents him holding the infant Jesus. He had a vision in which Mary placed her infant in his arms, which he interpreted as her trust and approval of his work.

St. Cajetan Parish at 2445 West 112th Street was founded in 1927. It was the first Roman Catholic parish in Morgan Park, and the second Catholic church there, following Sacred Heart, which is a mission church and not a parish. It is the fifth Catholic church in RHS territory, and the fourth parish, following St. Margaret of Scotland (Washington Heights), St. Barnabas (Beverly), and St. Christina (Mount Greenwood). The current St. Cajetan Church was built in 1961-62.

The Ridge Historical SocietyThe Paranormal Ridge: Part 14 – Save the Castle GhostsBy Carol FlynnThank you to the members...
10/31/2020

The Ridge Historical Society
The Paranormal Ridge: Part 14 – Save the Castle Ghosts
By Carol Flynn

Thank you to the members of the Beverly Unitarian Church (BUC) for being such good sports for the last few years while the Castle ghost folklore was researched and shared with the public. As much as folklore is an important part of history, it is recognized that the BUC has more important things to deal with than female phantoms with Irish brogues who don’t leave footprints in the snow.

Before we get to a final word about the Castle, there is one more category of ghost stories to look at – experiences that couldn’t and shouldn’t have happened.

There are several websites on which people post paranormal experiences and occasionally stories about the Castle show up. Here are two that fall into the “couldn’t and shouldn’t” category that were edited slightly to make them more readable:

“My friends and I would sometimes ditch school to go smoke some bud and we would often go to the abandoned castle. I’ve heard the voice of a woman talking, almost like shouting, as if in an argument with someone. She didn’t sound like an American; she sounded English or Celtic of some sort, with very proper speaking. I did not see anything but had a feeling of being watched.”

‘It is definitely haunted. I found a way inside and I did indeed hear a woman speaking aggressively in an English accent, or she sounded Irish.”

In response to these stories, first, the Castle has never been abandoned in its entire 130+ years of existence. BUC bought the Castle in 1942 and has used and maintained the building consistently for almost 80 years. Second, the building is kept secure and it is very doubtful anyone casually “found a way inside.” This is the “couldn’t” part of these stories - they just do not ring true.

More importantly, the Castle is private property. “Ghost exploration” does not justify trespassing, violating any laws, or invading someone's privacy. This is the “shouldn’t” part and applies to any location, not just the Castle.

The final word about the Castle is that the BUC is currently undertaking a major restoration project. After more than 130 years, the turrets, or tops of the round towers at the Castle's corners, were found to be deteriorating. Work to repair them began this past summer.

The BUC continues to reach out to the community for financial support for the preservation work. Donations to the Castle Restoration Fund are used solely for that purpose and not for church operations. For more information on the restoration project, including information on funding and donating, visit the website at givinsbeverlycastle.org or see the page Givins Beverly Castle.

Castles stir the imagination, especially a medieval castle perched on a hill in a modern American city. The towers and turrets conjure up images of another time and place, of knights and fair maidens, thrones and dungeons. Ghost stories are part of the mystique of a castle, and the Givins Beverly Castle is no exception.

The Castle is the best known and loved landmark in Beverly. Even though the building is owned by BUC, the entire community gets to enjoy its presence. Saving the Castle means saving history and folklore – and the ghosts themselves. If the Castle deteriorates, where will the Irish lasses go?

Happy Halloween.

The Ridge Historical SocietyThe Paranormal Ridge: Part 13 – Odds and Ends on Castle Ghost StoriesBy Carol FlynnHere are ...
10/30/2020

The Ridge Historical Society
The Paranormal Ridge: Part 13 – Odds and Ends on Castle Ghost Stories
By Carol Flynn

Here are two more pieces of interesting trivia about the Givins Beverly Castle that relate to the paranormal. The first is the Transylvania connection, and the second is Bob Givins’ own experience with a ghost.

If the rumor that there was once a woman from Transylvania, Romania, the home of Dracula, in the neighborhood and she was connected to the Castle is ever heard, well, that is true. Her name was Vilma Szantho Harrington, and she was instrumental in starting the Beverly Unitarian Church. She was the first woman to be ordained a Unitarian minister.

Vilma was born and raised in Transylvania, which, along with Poland, was a starting place for the Unitarian Church. She came to Chicago to attend the University of Chicago. There she met Donald Harrington, a fellow seminary student, and they married in 1939. The Harringtons started the Unitarian Church in the Castle. They moved on to New York, where Donald became a leader in the Church there.

The history of the Unitarian Church is very interesting. By all of the many accounts about the Harringtons, they were wonderful people, devoted to social justice causes. Vilma died in 1982. Her husband wrote a tribute to her that can be found online at https://www.harvardsquarelibrary.org/biographies/vilma-szantho-harrington/. Donald died in 2005 in Transylvania.

The Unitarian Church connected with Harvard University has mentioned Dracula humorously in some of its web posts, but there is, of course, no connection at all between the Church and Dracula.

There has been an occasional vampire story on the South Side but these never came to anything. There were occasional sightings of a phantom by 111th and Pulaski Road at St. Casimir Cemetery, on the western edge of Mt. Greenwood. Richard Crowe, Chicago’s legendary ghost lore expert and tour director, assured the public this was not a vampire.

These posts have covered ghost stories at the Castle that Robert C. Givins built. As it turns out, Givins himself was no stranger to ghost experiences. One experience is covered in a book titled Robertson’s Landmarks of Toronto, published in 1894.

Givins’ ancestors came from Northern Ireland to Canada. Around 1800, Colonel James Givins, Robert’s grandfather, built a home in Toronto. At the time, Toronto was called York, and this was one of the first homes established, a landmark for many years until it was demolished in the late 1800s.

Robert C. Givins was born in Canada in 1846. In an adjacent village, Yorkville, which became part of Toronto in 1883, was an old brewery built at the bottom of a ravine. The building was described as “a low, red brick building one hundred feet long and fifty or sixty feet wide.” It was in a very picturesque setting, surrounded by thick woods with a pond from a stream that had been damned up to create water power for grinding. A water wheel was at one end of the building. A road ran down to the brewery from the street above.

By 1860, the brewery was no longer in operation. The building was used by local boys for a meeting place and shelter. In the wintertime, the road leading down into the ravine was used for sledding.

Givins shared the following story with a Canadian newspaper reporter:

“I remember one dark night one of the boys [dared] a party of us to go through the old [brewery]. A superstition existed among many in the village that this old building was haunted, and notwithstanding our frequent visits there in the day time, there was not a boy in the neighborhood who could be hired at any price to go through it at night, and I have no doubt many believed that it was actually haunted, because I remember a story in circulation at the time that one night an old watchman had occasion to go down there after an escaped burglar, claiming that as he entered the old building, he saw four ghosts playing whist on the top of one of the vats. He did not wait to catch the burglar, who either escaped or was annihilated by the ghostly occupants of the old building.

“We followed the nervy youth who originated this hazardous proposition. It was the blackest night he could have selected; thunder clouds hung over the pond, and an occasional flash indicated an approaching storm, and added no little terror to the occasion. To many of us this day seemed our last. Whew! – going through the old brewery at night. We groped our way down the hill, and after stumbling about over the rough ground and through shrubbery we finally got to the entrance to the old sluice. [This opening was where the water once ran to power the wheel for grinding.] It was 200 feet through into the big water wheel, which was located at one end of the brewery. The passage way was large enough for us to go two abreast, but was very low; we had to creep on our hands and knees. [No one] experienced a more breathless journey than we did.

“We got along, however, all right until we came to the big wheel, and after we all climbed through we stood inside the wheel to get a rest before we explored other portions of the brewery. In the corner of the room we thought we saw what first appeared to be a ray of light peeping through a crack in the wall. We all looked intently upon the corner where we saw two big bright eyes glaring at us like two coals of fire. We were paralyzed for a minute, not one of us mustering up courage enough to speak. At last the leader whispered, “Let’s get,” which we did and the way we scrambled out through that sluice to the entrance and got up the hill can never be properly expressed. Upon reaching the street, we walked hand in hand home.”

Tomorrow: Halloween and a final post on Castle ghosts

The Ridge Historical SocietyThe Paranormal Ridge: Part 12 – More Recent Experiences at the CastleBy Carol FlynnThe early...
10/28/2020

The Ridge Historical Society
The Paranormal Ridge: Part 12 – More Recent Experiences at the Castle
By Carol Flynn

The early owners of the Givins Beverly Castle at 103rd Street and Longwood Drive were three private families in succession, and for a year and a half in the 1890s, the Castle was rented by a female college. Since the early 1940s, the Castle has been owned by the Beverly Unitarian Church (BUC). The building has been used for church services and functions and rented or loaned out for many other functions, from Jewish religious services to Christian weddings to Neo-Pagan drummings.

Beginning in the 1970s, the first-person stories relating strange experiences at the Givins Beverly Castle started to be recorded in newspaper interviews. Three people publicly shared their paranormal experiences – a caretaker from the 1960s, a psychic who visited in the 1970s, and a minister from the 1990s. There were, of course, many other hearsay stories repeated through the years.

More recently, other people have shared personal experiences. Another caretaker from the past confirmed that her daughter-in-law, the “sensitive” one in the family, was visited by an entity at the Castle in a room on the second floor that she used for sewing.

People from Blue Island involved in a ghost investigation a few years ago observed the phantom of a young woman dressed in an old-fashioned plaid dress gliding around the outside of the Castle.

A police officer said he was called to the Castle in the 1990s when a church member saw a man’s face looking in the windows from the outside, moving from window to window. The police officer said there were no footprints in the snow outside the windows.

A person who came to the Castle for Neo-Pagan events in the mid-1990s reported on an on-line site that she and a friend experienced intense feelings of being watched and driven away as they were climbing the stairs to the third floor. She attributed this to a haunted nursery that had been on the third floor. The third floor does not have a history of being used as a nursery, but BUC did conduct Sunday school classes up there.

About eight years ago, someone from the Castle who wished to remain anonymous was shown a photo a local woman took of the Castle that seemed to show the phantom of a young girl out in front on the Longwood Drive-side, walking toward the school annex to the north. The anonymous person said that teachers at the school reported feeling someone tug on their clothes at a child’s height but when they turned around there was no one there, or they heard a child’s voice in the school hallway but there were no students out there when they looked.

Musicians visiting the outside of the Castle at night heard disembodied footsteps and experienced lights flickering on and off in response to their guitar-playing. This brings up a point – the entity does seem to respond to social events and music. Several BUC members, as well as the caretaker whose story was reported in post 9, have said they have heard the piano playing when it is covered and no one is in the room, and the sounds of the voices and tinkling silverware and glasses. The minister reported the slender arms that went around her husband’s waist during an event (post 10). And there are stories of a girl being spotted at social events, often on the stairs, when no children were invited or reported as being there, but these stories are not verified.

One piece of information that is shared in the books is a reference to an actual woman who reportedly lived in the Castle during the Great Depression and tended the gardens. Some people have thought this woman could be the ghost. Who started this theory, and why, isn’t known. No historical information has been found on this woman, and it would not be appropriate to name her in this post.

In summary, the major stories that come up again and again for the Castle involve a young woman and/or a girl, from the past, usually with an Irish brogue. Who this person (or persons) could be is a guess – a student, a servant, a patient, a teacher or church member, a family member, are all possibilities. She most likely is not Givins’ Irish fiancé who died before she lived in the Castle because, first, there is no record to be found of Givins visiting Ireland in the immediate years before the Castle was built, and second, at the time the Castle was built his wife Emma, a school teacher of Norwegian descent, was very much alive, and she did live in the Castle for years. His first wife had died some years before.

The other stories that are reported by several people include sounds of the piano playing, and voices and clinking cutlery and glasses, like an event is going on.

There have been a few reports of male presences but these are much less common.

In the next post on the topic, some odds and ends related to the Castle ghost stories will be explored.

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10621 S Seeley Ave
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Contact RHS at 773-881-1675 or [email protected]

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Tracy Ave vs. Tracy the Neighborhood?: Researching something on the North side, stumbled on a 1906 Blue Book (see Preface, page 17: http://livinghistoryofillinois.com/pdf_files/1906%20Chicago%20Blue%20Book.pdf), "a compilation of about twenty-four thousand names of the most prominent householders in Chicago and suburbs within a thirty mile radius." I knew 103rd Street was formerly-known as "Tracy Avenue." So was that area of today's Beverly known simply then as Tracy? Sort of like it is known as Beverly now, a neighborhood?
Hi! I've been trying to connect to the RHS website and it appears to be down! Just thought you would like to know!
If you attended my presentation on Chicago Railroad History at RHS, I mentioned our new poster. Its now for sale online:
The second season for Concerts at the Castle is now under way! Next up is the Charles Heath Quartet on Sat, Nov 30 @ 7pm. Proceeds for all concerts in this series benefit the Givins Beverly Castle Building Fund. Details are at www.concertsatthecastle.org.
What station was this one? my source: Ebay
Raymond. W. Evans residence 9914 South Longwood Drive, Chicago IL Built: 1908 - Image Chicago History Museum from 1910
My Dad had these Old Newspapers Articles its a part of History
Suburban Homes in Morgan Park booklet from 1886:
On October 6 & October 7, come see the Pullman National Monument! The Historic Pullman Foundation and the Pullman Civic Organization will host their 45th Annual House Tour. The tour will feature a glimpse into seven private homes, musuem houses, exhibits, music, food, antique cars, garage sales and so much more.. House Tour tickets may be purchased for $20 in advance through 5:00 PM October 5th. Online: https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3321987; by phone at 773-785-8901, or $20 at the door on the days of the event. Half of the proceeds from ticket sales benefit facade restoration projects in Pullman.
Join our Historic Pullman House Tour weekend celebration, October 7th & 8th to see the Pullman National Monument, tour seven houses, exhibits, music, food, antique cars, garage sales and so much more. Advance tickets are $20 if purchased on or before October 5th and $23 at the door. Tickets will be held for pick up at the Visitor Center (11141 S. Cottage Grove, Chicago) on either day starting at 10:30am. Houses will be open from 11:00am until 5:00pm. You can call the Visitor Center for more information. 773-785-8901 between 11-3 every day except Mondays. Purchase tickets on line at: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2895761
Even though I liked this page I still dont have access. What I am doing incorrectly?