Chicago Architecture Buffs Coming Back to Beverly/Morgan Park Neighborhood Oct. 19 and 20  

Chicago Architecture Buffs Coming Back to Beverly/Morgan Park Neighborhood Oct. 19 and 20  


Eleven sites in Beverly/Morgan Park will be among nearly 350 of Chicago’s most intriguing buildings opening their doors for the Chicago Architecture Center’s (CAC) 9th annual Open House Chicago (OHC). Last year, Beverly/Morgan Park sites were included for the first time on the free, behind-the-scenes event, and nearly 3,000 visitors arrived on our community doorstep – most of them for the first time. This years tour will showcase several new locations, as well as a few of last year’s favorites.  

One of the world’s largest architecture festivals, Open House Chicago is a two-day public event taking place Sat., Oct. 19 and Sun., Oct. 20, with most sites open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days, but check the Open House Chicago Event Guide, available at all participating locations, for any time limitations.   

The Beverly Area Planning Association worked with OHC planners to identify and recruit Beverly/Morgan Park locations for this year’s event.  

“We are thrilled that people from all over Chicagoland will have a chance to get an inside look at the diverse architecture and historic buildings that make Beverly/Morgan Park so amazing,” said BAPA Executive Director Susan Flood. “Being on Open House Chicago’s map has the potential to bring more new visitors to our neighborhood. BAPA is proud to be a partner in this citywide event.”  

Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin recommended the Givins Beverly Castle in his top ten list of Open House Chicago sites to see this year. In the item, Kamin wrote, “In addition to its wealth of Prairie Style houses, the Far South Side’s Beverly neighborhood boasts this curiosity A castle-like mansion built of rock-solid Joilet limestone . . . it is a Beverly icon and Chicago’s only castle.” 

Beverly/Morgan Park Open House Chicago locations offering behind-the-scenes tours are:  

Wild Blossom Meadery & Winery 

9030 S. Hermitage Ave.  

Chicago’s first meadery uses local ingredients and its own honey – there are hives on the property – to create a wide variety of mead flavors and styles. The transformation into the production facility and tasting room was designed by Moss Design in 2017 and features soaring ceilings and huge windows overlooking patio, garden and Dan Ryan Woods Forest Preserve.  

Beverly Hills Tennis Club 

9121 S. Hamilton Ave.  

Founded in 1919 by a group of tennis-playing families, the current club property was purchased in 1926 and the first four courts were built with clay salvaged from a nearby street construction project. The clubhouse was built in 1928, designed to be converted into a private home, just in case finances became shaky. Soon after, the other four courts were built. The club survived the Great Depression and continued to grow. The clubhouse was remodeled in 1964 and three years later, fast-dry courts were installed. New clay is laid down every year to keep courts in top condition. In 1972, a regulation size platform tennis court was added. A more recent remodeling enabled year-round use of the club house 

Christ the King Roman Catholic Church 

9235 S. Hamilton Ave.  

Christ the King parish was established in 1926 and the current church was constructed in 1955, designed by John Jay Fox Jr. of Fox & Fox Architects, a firm that specialized in designing Catholic schools and churchesFox was a Beverly/Morgan Park resident and active Christ the King parishioner until he died in 2003. The fan shaped church was built on an angle and uses a blend of modern and traditional design emphasizing the symbols of crown and cross inside and outAbove the entrance is a stained glass and bronze figure of Christ the King. Marble and mahogany add to the beauty in the sanctuary. The mural about the windows is paintings on canvas finished in a mosaic effect.  

John H. Vanderpoel Art Association Gallery 

9625 S. Longwood Dr.  

The collection of fine 19th and 20th Century art began with the acquisition of a work by Dutch artist John H. Vanderpoel, at one time a Beverly/Morgan Park resident and instructor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. The gallery is located in the Ridge Park field house, which was designed by John T. Hetherington in 1913 and in 1929 remodeled by Hetherington and his son Murray Hetherington, adding the wing that houses the extraordinary art collection. The collection is composed of nearly 500 works by noted American painters and sculptors, including Mary Cassatt and Daniel Chester French.  

Trinity United Methodist Church 

9848 S. Winchester  

Formed from two congregations each with roots back to the 1800sTrinity United Methodist Church was organized Beverly/Morgan Park in 1920, but the formidable gothic church and courtyard we see today were not built until after the Great Depression, and dedicated in 1940. Patterned after the Rockefeller Chapel at the University of Chicago, the church is designed in the shape of a cross with the chancel at the head of the cross, the transepts forming the arms, the nave forming the body and the narthex at the foot. The sanctuary and chapel showcase exceptional stained glass rich in color and symbolism. The windows in the nave depict stories from the bible.  

The Givins Beverly Castle 

10244 S. Longwood Dr.  

The community’s best known landmark was built in 1886-87 by real estate developer Robert C. Givins and originally used as his private residence. The three-story Irish castle is built from solid limestone and features crenelated turrets, stained glass and elaborate oak woodwork.  In the mid-1890s it was briefly rented to a private school for girls, then transformed back into a private home, wired for electricity and later sold to a physician. It has been home of Beverly Unitarian Church since 1942. Funds are currently being raised to repair and restore the roof and turrets. Learn more at  

Ridge Historical Society 

10621 S. Seeley Ave.  

The Tudor Revival terraced mansion was designed by John T. Hetherington in 1921 and built in 1922. Terraced into the hill, the home was built for the Herbert S. Graver family and later owned by the Driscoll family, which donated it to the Ridge Historical Society in 1972. It is now officially named the Graver-Driscoll House. The Society maintains extensive archives and collections used for research, programs and exhibits, and works to preserve, protect and promote the history of the Ridge communities.  

Ingersoll-Blackwelder House 

10910 S. Prospect Ave. 

One of the oldest homes in Beverly/Morgan Park, the Queen Anne front of the house was built in 1873-74 and the Italianate style back added in 1877. The house was built for Isaac and Gertrude Blackwelder – he was the first president of the Village of Morgan Park and she was the first woman to vote in a groundbreaking 1913 Cook County electionThe Elegant Victorian home was owned and restored by nationally recognized artist the late Jack Simmerling, and features carefully preserved architectural and design details 

Morgan Park Presbyterian Church 

11056 S. Longwood Dr.  

The first congregation of Morgan Park Presbyterian Church build a church adjacent to the Rock Island Railroad (for which many church members worked) in 1892. In 1933, fire destroyed the original church, and despite being in the throes of the Great Depression, the faithful congregation engraved a stone from the original church and laid it as the new church cornerstone in 1934. The new gothic church with the soaring tower was built on the foundation of the original church and  dedicated in 1941The sanctuary was designed by Albert F. Heino with carved oak piers framing lancet windows and exquisite stained glass windows telling stories from the Old and New Testaments.   

Morgan Park Academy Alumni Hall 

2153 W. 111th St.  

Built on the campus of what is now a private co-ed school founded in 1873 as Morgan Park Military Academy, Alumni Hall was completed in 1927 as a memorial to academy cadets who served in World War I, including seven who lost their lives. Note the restored military-inspired murals discovered during a remodeling. The building was designed by Ralph H. Oliver, an architect with Holmes and Finn and a 1904 academy graduate. The main hall on the second floor was built with 30-foor high ceilings and modeled after English baronial halls. Now used as the MPA library, the room features oak paneled walls, an enormous fireplace and wooden beams. 

Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Mission 

11652 S. Church St.  

Sacred Heart was founded in 1892 for French settler, many of whom worked at the Purington Brick Yards nearby. The original wooden frame church was built on posts over a swamp in 1904-05. According to local folklore, Purington workers were allowed to take bricks that were not fit to sell, and that over the years, collected a few at a time, enough were accumulated to build the present brick structure around the old frame church in 1922. Due to declining attendance, the church was closed in 1979 and scheduled to be demolished but reopened in late 1982 as a mission of Holy Name of Mary Parish – there are only three other mission churches in Chicago – and with the caveat that the building would be brought up to fire and safety codes 

Open House Chicago is a free event with sites downtown and in 38 neighborhoods, including sacred spaces, private clubs, repurposed mansions, skyscrapers, offices and industrial facilities.  

The Chicago Architecture Center is recruiting volunteers to help out at sites via and people who wish to help out locally through BAPA can contact Grace Kuikman, 

Wintrust is the presenting sponsor of Open House Chicago.   

Game, Set, Match! Beverly Hills Tennis Club Celebrates Centennial 

By Kristin Boza 

The Beverly Hills Tennis Club (BHTC), a private social tennis club located at 9121 S. Hamilton Ave., is celebrating an incredible milestone this month: its 100th anniversary. The BHTC began in 1919 when a group of tennis-loving families came together to form it; a few years later, it was incorporated by the State of Illinois and became an official club. The current location is even as original as it gets, although the BHTC spent its first year at around 90th and Hamilton — since the area was mainly farmland, it’s not easy to pinpoint the exact location of that first tennis court. 

Throughout the following decades, BHTC members continually made upgrades and improvements, making it one of the premier courts in Chicago. The BHTC even hosted the Chicago District Tennis Association tournament from the 1960s to 1990s. The BHTC originated in a membership model of single-person entry, but all that changed in the 1970s when the Tobin, Stanton and Frazel families asked if their families could join. Moving to include family membership started a tradition that continues to this day of Beverly/Morgan Park area families enjoying the sport and social aspects of the BHTC. 

Joe Stoiber is the current president of the BHTC Board. As avid tennis players since childhood, Stoiber and his wife joined the club when they moved back to Beverly to start a family. “The club is very family-oriented, but also hosts various social events for adults, too,” he said. “We have one of the few clay courts in the Chicago area, which is a wonderful surface to play on, especially for anyone with joint challenges. Since we open at 6:30 a.m., early risers can get in a game before work; and we’re open until 10 p.m. thanks to the well-lit courts.” 

Opening celebrations each spring coincide with the Kentucky Derby, and the club doesn’t close until the first snow of the winter; one year, they were open until Thanksgiving due to the mild weather.  

Ladies Night is Tuesday, and Men’s Night is Thursday. Since the club is BYO, these nights are also great social events and patrons can cook food on the provided grill and share in a few drinks as they socialize between matches. 

Many members say their favorite event of the year is the Woodie Tournament, when members can only play with wood rackets. “Tennis rackets have gone from the Flintstones to Star Wars in the last 15 to 20 years, and wooden rackets are basically obsolete now,” Stoiber said. “We brought the tradition back about 10 years ago, and it’s so fun because wood rackets are a lot less forgiving than the rackets we’re used to now.” 

Stoiber points out that the BHTC is open to anyone who enjoys tennis. Prospective members are asked to get a recommendation from a current member. 

“The BHTC is extremely affordable and it’s just a really fun place,” Stoiber said. “One of the perks is that we don’t charge court fees; there’s a small equity payment to get into the club, then members pay their dues annually.”  

To celebrate the Centennial milestone, the BHTC is hosting a Block Party on Sat., Jun. 8 for current and former members and their guests. A pig roast feast will be featured, as well as bouncy houses, sno cones, ice cream, demos from tennis racket manufacturers and a performance by local band Cloud of Shame. And of course, the Centennial Tennis Tournament where the ages of the players on each team must add up to at least 100 years. 

“The BHTC is open to anyone, even those who are beginner tennis players,” Stoiber said. “We offer private lessons to all members, but any new member is welcome to take part in a free lesson each Wednesday night; it is much more fun for everyone when you know how to play. We also offer summer lessons for kids that are open to non-members as well.”  

To find out how to become a member, visit or email 

Local Architect Leaves Design Legacy in Harris House 

By Carol Flynn 
Ridge Historical Society 

George Steele Bannister was born in New York in 1860. His family moved to Odell, Illinois when he was a young boy. 

Bannister earned a BS in Architectural Engineering in 1886 from the University of IllinoisAs an alumnus, he served on the board of the Chicago Club of the University of Illinois, alongside such luminaries as sculptor Lorado Taft. 

In the 1890s, Bannister worked for several architectural firms including Raeder and Coffin, and Patton and Miller, where his duties related to building construction. He was listed as an Architectural Engineer and had position titles such as Architectural Superintendent and Draftsman, and Superintendent of Construction.  

Bannister’s first wife died in 1896, and in 1902, he married Alla Bryan Ripley, a widow with a daughter. They moved to Beverly/Morgan Park and lived at 10227 S. Wood St. A seamstress by trade, Ripley was just beginning a dressmaking business.  

IN 1905, Bannister designed and built the house at 10856 S. Longwood Drfor Luther S. Dickey, Jr., a prominent grain merchantIn 1912, Dickey sold this residence to Paul Harris, the founder of Rotary International. The house is now owned by Rotary International and undergoing a basement to roof restoration to return it to what it was like in when Harris resided there.  

In 1908, George and Alla Bannister built a Craftsman-style house at 1620 W. 102nd St. The building permit was listed in Alla’s name with George as architect and builder.  

Alla came to national attention in 1913 by designing and showing one of the first “Cubist” fashions at the Chicago Dressmakers’ Club. She established a fashion studio with $50,000 in capital stock, which she successfully ran as Madame Ripley for decades. She served as president of the Fashion Art League, lecturer at the Academy of Fine Arts, and a director at the Art Institute of Chicago. She made presentations to local women’s groups such as the Ridge Woman’s Club, which later became the Beverly Hills Woman’s Club 

The Bannisters were listed in the Chicago Blue Book from Tracy and were members of the Ridge Country Club. They were mentioned in the society pages for having a box at the opera. 

In the 1920s, Bannister ran an employment agency for the building industry. He delivered a paper on “The Draftsman” before the Chicago Chapter of the American Institute of Architects in 1925. He was also  a trustee at Bethany Union Church. 

Bannister died in 1938 in Chicago and was buried in Union Cemetery in Odell. Alla Bannister moved to California and died there in 1948. 

Givins Beverly Castle

By Linda Lamberty, Historian 

Ridge Historical Society  

Rick Kogan, beloved Chicago newspaperman, radio personality and author, and great advocate of the City’s history, is coming to the aid of our beautiful castle at 103rd and Longwood Drive. Upon hearing that the Castle faces daunting repairs to cracked turrets and other structural problems, Kogan offered Castle representatives a voice on his popular radio program, After Hours, airing Sundays, 9 to 11 p.m., to help raise awareness. Errol Magidson, creator of both the documentary and book, “Chicago’s Only Castle,” and Roberta Chalmers, a member of the Castle Restoration Task Force and member of Beverly Unitarian Church, keepers of the Castle since 1942, will join Rick on May 5th, from approximately 9:40 to 10:20 PM on WGN 720 AM. 

The castle, a charming and evocative structure, built as a home by real estate mogul Robert Givins in 1886-87, is truly unique in Chicago. 

Errol Magidson, creator of both the documentary and book, Chicago’s Only Castle, and Roberta Chalmers, a member of the Castle Restoration Task Force and member of Beverly Unitarian Church, keepers of the Castle since 1942, will join Rick on May 5th, from approximately 9:40 to 10:20 PM on WGN 720 AM. 

Magidson, a retired Distinguished Professor of the City Colleges of Chicago and adjunct professor at Saint Xavier University, will speak to the rich history of the Castle. 

Chalmers, able to explain the building’s structural problems and needs, has been in the property management industry for nearly fifteen years. She says, “I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart and a passion for historical architecture. Over the years, my specialty at work has become managing vintage 

buildings – most often those built in the 1895-1925 period. I’ve been involved in about a dozen facade and parapet restoration projects of varying sizes and materials, from brick to terra cotta to limestone.” Roberta volunteered for the task force almost immediately. To learn more or to donate, visit or send donations to the Castle Restoration Fund, 10244 S. Longwood Dr., Chicago IL 60643. This fund is totally separate from church operations and only benefits restoration and preservation of the building. 


New Ideas for Vintage Homes

BAPA Home Tour + Home Expo Give Before-and-After Insights to Gracious Living

On Sun., May 19, the old and the new come together as the Beverly Area Planning Association (BAPA) launches the new Home Expo on the morning of the popular Beverly/Morgan Park Home Tour. Together, the events offer before-and-after insights to gracious neighborhood living.

The BAPA Home Expo will take place at Bethany Union Church, 1750 W. 103rd St., Chicago, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and the Home Tour will start at the same location, with tour check-in and ticket sales 12 to 3 p.m. Home Tour locations are open 12 to 5 p.m.

BAPA Home Expo

Designed to give property owners a range of accessible expert advice, the Home Expo invites attendees to talk to interior designers, wood restoration experts, people who offer eco-friendly services, and companies that offer roofing (including slate roofing), heating and air conditioning, plumbing, decks, landscape design, composting, paint and more.

People considering home projects are welcome to participate in the AIA Chicago Ask and Architect program that connects residential architects with homeowners looking to expand or improve their homes. Bungalows, two-flats, or new construction—architects will be standing by with free, personalized advice.  The architects will be available for short consultations on a first come/first served. Bring plans, drawings, ideas, or any other pertinent information so the architects can assist in the best possible way.

The Chicago Bungalow Association will present information on its Stop the Pop campaign that encourages bungalow owners who are planning home additions to maintain the exterior integrity of the original architectural design. This presentation, scheduled for 10:15 a.m., can benefit all property owners who are considering additions.

Oak Brothers Architectural Restoration will present information on restoring and caring for vintage windows, woodwork and architectural elements at 11 a.m. The Oak Brothers are specialists in repairing original windows, providing custom millwork and hand carving, refurbishing vintage hardware, plaster repair and more.

Representatives from the Citizens Utility Board will be available with tips on saving money on utility bills, CHI 311 will provide information on Chicago’s expanded 311 service and the new easy-to-use 311 app, and the Chicago Metropolitan Water Reclamation District will offer a variety of service information and give away 100 free tree saplings.

BAPA Home Expo admission and presentations are free. The Expo is open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Beverly/Morgan Park Home Tour

This year’s Beverly/Morgan Park Home Tour takes a look at how savvy renovations, inspired decorating, new construction and down-to-the studs restoration add an exciting variety to traditional architectural designs in the historic Beverly/Morgan Park community.

The Home Tour begins at Bethany Union Church, 1750 W. 103rd St. The sanctuary was designed by noted architect Raymond M. Hood soon after he won the contest to design the Chicago Tribune Tower, and erected in 1926. It features carefully preserved Norman Gothic details and as well as a cloister Garth paved with Hudson River blue stone and featuring an open-air stone pulpit. Founded in 1872, Bethany Union Church will also be sharing artifacts and information about it’s long and interesting local history.

Homes being showcased on the tour are:

A stunning home built just ten years ago and designed with an English Eclectic influence that fits beautifully into the vintage character of the surrounding neighborhood. Inside the house is a spectacular combination of vintage amenities, contemporary lifestyle and carefully incorporated elements that make the house handicapped accessible to accommodate the needs of aging parents. From the basement party room with its expansive bar and sparkling disco ball to the perfect-for-entertaining open floor plan kitchen and family room to the fully furnished patio, this house was designed with welcome in mind. Experiences in this house include the Calumet Paint/Benjamin Moore Interior Paint Showcase and a beverage sampling in the back yard.

A handsome French Eclectic home designed by Murray Hetherington and built in 1935 on a secluded lot nestled at the edge of the forest preserves. The home offers a seamless meshing of original construction and renovation projects including a spacious addition with design-perfect details that incorporate original exterior brick and windows that match the unique windows in the front of the house that are protected as historic. Artwork throughout the house has been collected on family vacations and selected for its beauty, diverse media and styles, and as reminders of world travels. Experiences in this house include plein air painting by artist Judie Anderson.

A charming Mediterranean Revival with a brand new, custom-designed kitchen that combines function with contemporary beauty. This welcoming home is filled with elements including lovely casement windows and woodwork, decorating that uses a rich and warm palette of colors, and extensive collections of African American art and literature. Experiences in this house include tastings from guest chefs.

A stately North Beverly Georgian Revival with a warm and welcoming traditional appeal carried through from the original home into a stunning two-story addition. Be prepared to “ooh” and “aah” as every room features styles and decorating that make it special: the gorgeous fireplace in the sunken living room, the elegant dining room with its faux painting; the spacious master suite with walk in closet and spa bath, the comfortable family room that opens into a three-season room; even the cozy TV-room for two! Experiences at this house include beverage tastings on the deck.

A special feature of the Home Tour is the Longwood Drive historic home once owned by Paul Harris, founder of Rotary International, the global organization dedicated to taking action on some of the world’s most persistent issues. The house is currently undergoing a cellar-to-rooftop restoration by Rotary, bringing it back to what it was like when Harris lived there in the 1940s. Members of the Rotary Club will act as guides, offering insights into the home’s fascinating history and its amazing transformation back in time. Experiences include a candy tasting.

Home Tour attendees will get a chance to walk through each of these outstanding sites for an up-close look at the details of design, decorating, art collections and lifestyle that make each of them a unique example of gracious living in Beverly/Morgan Park – the Village in the City.

Many thanks to Home Tour sponsors including Mike Haggerty Buick-GMC-Volkswagen, Beverly Bank, Calumet Paint and Wallpaper, Beverly Hills Animal Hospital, Southtown Health Foods, County Fair Foods, PRS professional real estate services, Berkshire Hathaway Home Services – Biros Real Estate, Benjamin Moore Paint, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Solution 3 Graphics, Pacor Mortgage, Green Apple Cleaning, 19th Ward Youth Foundation, The Beverly Review, Smith Village, Horse Thief Hollow, Open Outcry Brewing Co., Sweet Freaks, The Blossom Boys, Steuber Florist & Greenhouse, RMH Interiors + Design, The Music Scene, Nine-One-One BBQ Shack and Chef Alvin Green.

For more than four decades, BAPA’s Beverly/Morgan Park Home Tour has been opening the doors to some of the neighborhood’s most remarkable private residences. Home Tour tickets are $30 in advance and available at Steuber Florist, 2654 W. 111th St., The Blossom Boys, 1810 W. 103rd St., Sweet Freaks, 9927 S. Wood St., and County Fair, 10800 S. Western (cash or checks only) or online at The price increases to $35 on the day of the tour. Home Tour locations are open from 12 to 5 p.m. All tours are self-guided and must begin by 3 p.m.

Information about the BAPA Home Expo and or Beverly/Morgan Park Home Tour contact BAPA, 773-233-3100 or,

Program Highlights Chicago’s First African-American Banker 


The Ridge Historical Society (RHS) is sponsoring a program on Jesse Binga, Chicago’s first African-American bankerat the Givins Castle, 10244 S. Longwood Dr., Sun., Apr. 7, 2 p.mPresenter Don Hayner will discuss his book, Binga, The Rise and Fall of Chicago’s First Black Banker, scheduled for release in November.  

Jesse Binga (1865 – 1950) was a prominent real estate businessman who founded the first privately owned African-American bank in Chicago in 1908 to serve black clients denied service at white-owned banks. 

According to an article written by Hayner for The VillagerJesse Binga came to Chicago in 1892 with 10 dollars in his pocket and by 1919 he was a wealthy realtor, Chicago’s first black banker and a lightning rod for the worst race riot in Chicago history.” 

In 1908. Binga opened a bank at 36th and State — the first black-owned bank in Chicago. He built a home in a white area and his house and offices were bombed numerous times. Animosity between whites and blacks led to a major Chicago race riot in 1919. 

Hayner, a lifelong Chicagoan and Beverly/Morgan Park resident, retired as editor-in-chief of the Chicago Sun-Times newspaper in 2012. He has co-authored three books including Streetwise Chicago, A History of Chicago Street Names. 

The cost of the RHS program is $10 per person and all proceeds will go to the Givins Castle Restoration Fund. The Beverly Unitarian Church, owner of the Castle, has started an initiative to raise money for repairs to the Castle turrets. Donations to this fund will be used for preservation of the Castle, not for church operations.  

As space is limited, program reservations are suggested. Call 773881-1675 or email Tours of the Castle will be available following the program.  

In recognition of Gertrude Blackwelder for Women’s History Month 

By Carol Flynn, Communications; and Linda Lamberty, Historian; Ridge Historical Society 

Gertrude Blackwelder made history on Saturday, July 26, 1913, when she cast her ballot in Morgan Park’s special election on building a new high school.  

Reported Town Talk, local paper, “As this was the first opportunity given women of Cook County by virtue of the recently enacted Women’s Suffrage law to vote upon questions other than candidates for school boards, nothing could have been more fitting than that Mrs. I. S. Blackwelder, former president of the Chicago Woman’s Club, and consistent worker for the betterment of women and children, as well as mankind as a whole, should cast the first woman’s vote in Morgan Park and Cook County.”   

A photo of Mrs. Blackwelder casting that vote appeared in numerous papers. The Illinois law was the final push that led to the U. S. Constitution’s Nineteenth Amendment in 1920, granting women the right to vote.  

The Progressive Era of 1890-1920 was a time of great reform and advancements, particularly in government and social areas. Gertrude Blackwelder embodied the spirit of that Era, working for women’s suffrage and other causes.   

Alice Gertrude Boughton was born in 1853 in New York. Her fathera Baptist ministervalued education. In 1869, she joined her sister in Kansas to attend the newly established university there. Following graduation in 1875, she was the first female graduate to be appointed to the faculty and, in 1890, she became the first woman to give a commencement speechImproving education opportunities for women and other disadvantaged groups became another important cause for Gertrude.  

In 1877, Gertrude married Isaac Simeon (I. S.) Blackwelder, and moved to Chicago. Blackwelder (1840-1926) rose to top management in the insurance industry, starting as aadjustor handling claims from the Great Chicago Fire of 1871  

The Blackwelders settled in Morgan Park, where I. S. served as president of the Village BoardSons Paul and Eliot were born. The family acquired the Ingersoll house at 10910 S. Prospect Ave., adding a Queen Annestyle front to the existing Italianate-style structure 

At that time, the wives of wealthy men did not work outside the homeThey applied their intelligenceskills and wealth to projects through volunteer organizations. Gertrude was elected to membership in the prestigious Chicago Woman’s Club (CWC), where she worked alongside Jane Addams of Hull House and Bertha Honore Palmer.  

Gertrude’s special interest was vacation schools, summer programs offering nature, artsmusic, and outdoor play activities for impoverished city childrenFor several years, she chaired the Vacation School Board, overseeing schools set up by the Chicago Permanent Vacation School and Playground Committee of Women’s Clubs. This coalition, with 212 delegates representing 50 clubsworked closely with the Chicago Board of Education. Gertrude wrote several articles on vacation schools for college publications. 

Due to her leadership abilities, Gertrude was chosen for higher office in the CWC. She served as Second and then First Vice President, and as President from 1906 to 1908. During those years, issues CWC addressed included children’s healthcare and daycare, the juvenile court system, crimes against children, working rights and conditions for women and children, sanitation and disease prevention in Chicago neighborhoods, pure food laws, and programs for the blind. 

Even as an executive officer, Gertrude made time to chair the Story Telling Committee, organizing and conducting story hours at schools, libraries and recreation centers.  

At home, the Blackwelders were involved in all things Morgan Park.” At the request of local womenGertrude co-founded the Morgan Park Woman’s Club in 1889. This is the oldest women’s club still existing in Chicago  

The Blackwelders supported the annexation of Morgan Park to Chicago, and the building of the high school. Both sat on local school boards, and Gertrude headed the Public School Art League which obtained artwork to decorate the school. A proposal in 1923 to rename the high school for the Blackwelders resulted in naming the auditorium Blackwelder Hall. 

Later, the Blackwelders moved to Stanford, California, where son Eliot was a college professor. Gertrude died there in 1938 

When I entered the University, in January, 1869,” wrote Gertrude in the 1908 Graduate Magazine of the University of Kansas, “Such was my delight at the opportunity for higher education, then largely denied to girls, that no thought of our limitations disturbed the serenity of my youthful mind.” 

That attitude prevailed throughout Gertrude Blackwelder’s lifeshe gave no thought to limitations. Her influence and accomplishments reached far beyond Morgan Park. Women’s History Month is a fitting time to give her recognition.  


Castle Keepers Unveil Castle Restoration Campaign to Save Our Community Landmark

By Grace Kuikman 

Imagine driving down Longwood Drive at 103rd Street, and looking up to see, not the iconic Givins Castle on the corner, but a boxy, blah building that could be in anyone’s neighborhood.  

It seems unthinkable, but in reality, the fragile limestone with which the castle was built in 1886 has suffered from more than 130 years of Chicago winters. The distinctive crenellated turrets need to be restored, and that will require a variety of historic restoration specialists and approximately $800,000.  

A task force of a dozen people from Beverly Unitarian Church, owners of the castle since 1942, and the community are reaching out to the Beverly/Morgan Park neighborhood, the City of Chicago and even federal historic preservation agencies for help in restoring this unique and historically important building.  

Early last year, the castle underwent an extensive assessment of the building’s condition by a professional engineering and architecture team. Results revealed cracks and decomposition in the turrets and roof structures. The task force of Castle Keepers invested $25,000 in stabilizing the turrets, but that’s a temporary fix.  

When the extent of the damage and daunting amount of funding it will take to rebuild the turrets and save the castle were revealed, the Beverly Unitarian congregation needed to make a difficult decision. For nearly 80 years church members have lovingly maintained the hilltop castle and property, including interior restorations in the 1980s and 1990s. How could a congregation of fewer than 100 members undertake a project that could cost up to $1 million?  

True to their heritage as our community’s Castle Keepers, they decided to forge ahead. 

Members of Beverly Unitarian Church have pledged $400,000 to the project. “With that wonderful vote of confidence we are moving into the external phase of fundraising to reach our $800,000 goal,” wrote Jean Hardy Robinson, a member of the restoration task force. 

Work to restore the castle from the roofline up needs to begin in spring. 

Last year, the castle restoration fund was set up to accept donations that will go directly into helping to pay for the critical repair work. The funds are completely separate from church funds, so donors can be confident that 100 percent of their tax-deductible gifts will help save the beloved neighborhood landmark.  

Robinson and other members of the castle task force have been researching all angles of this vitally important campaign and volunteering expert experience in areas from project management to fundraising. Spreading the word is an intrinsic part of the plan. 

People are available tor presentations on the Castle history and the restoration project for community groups as well as guided tours of the Castle for people interested in learning more about the project.  

Friends of the Castle are coming up with creative ideas on how to help. Errol Magidson, author of “Chicago’s Only Castle,” a rich history of the Givins Castle illustrated with dozens of photos, is donating proceeds from the sale of the book to the restoration fund. Books are available at Bookies, 10324 S. Western.  

The castle task force is now reaching out for major donations as well as all levels of contributions. People are invited to make donations online at or to call 773-233-7080 for more information.  

BAPA Housing and Historic Preservation Committee

By Liam Millerick

BAPA Property Preservation Services

The residents of Beverly/Morgan Park have done an excellent job preserving the old and historic homes within our neighborhood. BAPA is revitalizing it’s Housing and Historic Preservation Committee to revisit housing initiatives and identify buildings that may need proactive attention and planning, and to provide expanded resources for owners of older properties.

The committee brings together local historians and experts in architecture, property preservation and historic preservation, as well as several community members who live in, are concerned about or are stewards of local historic properties.

Among the committee’s goals is providing more resources to residents looking for ways to continue maintain or restore their properties. The BAPA Home Expo will be held Sun., Feb. 24, at the Beverly Arts Center, and feature businesses that provide home improvement trades and resources and “break-out” sessions geared towards restoration and rehabilitation of older homes.

The BAPA Home Expo will also launch a series of speakers and workshops dedicated to providing expert information on topics related housing preservation and maintenance.

Although local historic districts provide recognition of and some protections for the buildings that make our neighborhood unique, aging properties and underuse of certain facilities can put some buildings at risk. The BAPA Housing and Historic Preservation Committee is compiling watch list of properties and researching ways to proactively protect the buildings that create our architectural and historic legacy.

Neighbors interested in learning more about property or historic preservation in the community can contact me at

Beverly/Morgan Park Home Tour Showcases Neighborhood Lifestyle Built Around Rock Island Stations

Five private homes — all within walking distance of local Metra stops and illustrative of the lifestyle and history of commuter service in our community — will be open to visitors for the Beverly Area Planning Association’s 47th edition of the Beverly Hills/Morgan Park Home Tour, Sun., May 20, 12 to 5 p.m.

Visitors on this year’s tour will step inside a glorious Colonial revival mansion that has been renovated from foundation to roof; a deluxe Chicago bungalow beautifully updated for an active family; a gracious Tudor just steps away from the woods; a charming Prairie-influenced hilltop home; and a cozy stucco cottage with a garden hideaway.

Homes are selected for the tour because of their outstanding decorating, amenities and architecture. Featured this year are homes where contemporary stylings enhance original architectural details and offer a range of great ideas for updating kitchens, baths, basements and even yards.

Home Tour stops feature cooking and decorating demonstrations, experts offering home and garden advice, sponsor giveaways, tastings and more.

A True Commuter Community

Beverly/Morgan Park would not exist today had it not been for the Chicago and Rock Island Railroad (now the Metra Rock Island). When the Rock began daily commuter service downtown nearly 150 years ago, the sparsely settled areas along the Blue Island Ridge that became Beverly/Morgan Park began attracting people who desired homes in a “suburban” setting but accessible to jobs and shopping, as well as railroad workers and service providers in need of lodging close to station stops.

Home construction on the Ridge boomed following the Great Chicago Fire in 1871. From mansions that housed some of Chicago’s most prominent families, to cottages and bungalows for families of more modest means, quick transportation downtown was a key influencer for home buyers more than a century ago, just as it is for buyers today. Many of the stations, now located at four-block intervals from 91st to 115th Streets, served as village centers for shopping, and the surviving stations built in the late 1800s and early 1900s form the Rock Island Train Station historic district because of their historic and architectural significance. All of the stations are part of daily life for the estimated 8.3 million riders currently commuting between Joliet and LaSalle Street each year.

At Home in Beverly/Morgan Park Today

For more than four decades, BAPA’s Beverly/Morgan Park Home Tour has been opening the doors to some of the neighborhood’s most remarkable private residences. Tickets to this year’s tour are $30 in advance at or $35 on the day of the tour, Sun., May 20. Homes are open from 12 to 5 p.m. All tours are self-guided and must begin by 3 p.m. The starting point is RMH Design, 1806 W. 103rd St., an eclectic home décor and clothing boutique, where people must check-in to receive their booklets, which are required for admission into the homes.

Thank You Home Tour Sponsors

Pacor Mortgage, Southtown Health Food, Calumet Paint and Wallpaper, Benjamin Moore Paint, Marquette Bank, PRS Real Estate Services, Beverly Hills Animal Hospital, Steuber Florist & Greenhouses, Coldwell Banker Residential Oak Lawn,  19th Ward Youth Foundation, County Fair, The Beverly Review, RMH Design, and Road Home Program.

Information about the Home Tour and sponsorship opportunities, as well as tickets are available at BAPA, 773-233-3100 or