‘Chicago’s Only Castle’ Updated With New Stories and Photos
By Grace Kuikman
Just when you think that you’ve heard the whole story of the Givins Beverly Castle, you find out that the history of this iconic building is forever revealing new secrets.
Although only six years have passed since author Errol Magidson published “Chicago’s Only Castle,” the recently released second edition offers interesting and informative updates that kept me reading long into the night. From the prologue to the final chapter, Magidson’s fluid writing style, personal passion for the Castle, and deft handling of a considerable amount of historical information make this book wonderfully readable.
The text plus the dozens of photos dating from when the Castle was built in 1886 through today work together to underscore the importance of this building in the context of the history of Chicago, the Beverly community, and even the world.
Magidson has divided the book into manageable sections that cover the stories of the five Castle keepers, starting with Robert C. Givins, who built the Castle and used it as his home from 1887 to 1895, and continuing with the institutions and families that followed.
New in this edition of “Chicago’s Only Castle” is the fascinating and inspiring story of the how the Beverly Unitarian Church congregation was able to save and restore the building’s towers, taking that saga step by step from beginning to end, complete with before, during, and post-restoration photos.
Also new in the second edition is a recently discovered aerial photo taken from a box kite in 1899 that shows the Beverly area when only a handful of structures — among them the Castle and the old water tower — stood among the woods and fields that defined the landscape more than a century ago.
“Chicago’s Only Castle” would be an excellent library addition for fans of history, architecture, Chicago, and the Beverly neighborhood.
Learn more at chicagosonlycastle.org.
New ‘Little Johnny’ Book On Shelves Now!
By Tim Moran
Longtime Beverly/Morgan Park resident and author Francoise Johnson has released her second book, “Little Johnny Superman Discovers New Friends and New Worlds.”
Following the same main character, Little Johnny, from Johnson’s first book, “Little Johnny Superman and his D-Day Adventure,” Johnson spotlights diversity in school atmospheres in her new release.
“The message is simple but powerful,” Johnson said. “Instead of avoiding each other, they learn from each other.” The story, aimed at children ages 8 and up, follows a group of kids as they navigate a new classroom with their many different identities.
Johnson was inspired to publish the second work by her cousin, who suggested her experience as a former coordinator of community service for the City of Chicago’s Commission on Human Relations gave her insight to these complex dynamics.
A native of France, Johnson has spent the bulk of her life on Chicago’s South Side, first in Morgan Park, then Scottsdale, and now Beverly.
Dennis Foley Releases New Memoir
By Tim Moran
“Feloniously Yours” is the latest book published by Dennis Foley, a longtime Beverly resident who uses his own federal indictment as an example of overcoming difficulties.
“It’s something that can be hard to talk about,” Foley said. “Who wants to talk about getting indicted?”
But he does in his fifth book that was released earlier this month at Bookie’s and various other bookstores across Chicago.
The book, a memoir, is a sequel to one of the neighborhood author’s first published works.
He explains that the final passage of “The Drunkard’s Son” features himself as a 15-year-old on the South Side of Chicago wondering what will become of himself. In “Feloniously Yours,” the character finds out.
“It’s about overcoming obstacles,” Foley said. “People might not know of it now, but I had a difficult time in school; I stuttered and I had undiagnosed ADHD.”
The book covers his adulthood, which since 1991 has included Beverly as his home. A number of stories in “Feloniously Yours” are dramatized tales from the 2015 South Side of Chicago filming of “Not A Stranger,” which had scenes at St. Barnabas Catholic Church, the neighborhood’s many train tracks and the former Ellie’s Cafe.
“But the stories aren’t told in a traditional sense,” Foley said. “I tell them more like it is a fairy tale.”