By Susan Flood
BAPA Executive Director
Since joining the BAPA team, I find myself in constant thought about attracting “young” families to our “old” neighborhood. Our neighborhood’s rich collection of historic buildings including our famous Castle, preserves the experience of Beverly/ Morgan Park as a home within our city’s limits like no other. How do our historic buildings, our Castle, serve to tempt new homebuyers to become our neighbors?
While it’s not scientific research, my experience as a recent empty nester means I spend a lot of my discretionary time around my millennial children, and their cousins and friends. I’ve noticed that they are deliberate about authenticity. What they eat, what they wear, where they live, what they say. What is more authentic than a Castle, built on a hilltop by a real estate developer with big dreams as a unique home for his family?
Much has been written about where millennials are choosing to call home, and the trend points toward cities and neighborhoods with historic character. Are they seeking authenticity through historic building stock? After all, this generation, one of the largest and most diverse in our country, is giving us the “Pop-Up” and the Instagram Museum. Temporary in nature, these pop-ups and Instagram installations are interactive experiences that attract visitors who want to be part of what they’re seeing, to add to it and to share it with others on social media. Once the picture is taken, the visitors become a real part of the installation, a part of its history.
Robert Givins, the man who built the Castle, is quoted as saying, “The way to make a good citizen in this country is to make him part owner of it.” Instagram gives us that experience, even, if it’s only for 24 hours.
As Millennials are starting to choose where they will settle down, will they see our historic architecture, our Castle, as the best of both the cutting edge experience they can share on social media and history, as a place where something actually happened?
I for one, hope for a community that is committed to preserving the Castle that has given us the gift of history, memory and shared identity. If we don’t, we may never know how our village in the city history stacks up not just as an Instagram Museum but as a special place that young people want to call home.