Beverly Neighborhood Guide
On the far southwest side of Chicago is the quiet, largely residential neighborhood of Beverly. The area has many historic homes and a strong Irish-American background – the reason why there’s an actual replica of a castle in Ireland built in the community – but we’ll get to that a little later. Beverly is perhaps most remembered for its rowdy South Side St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which was canceled because it got a little too big and wild for the tranquil neighborhood. The event was famed as the “real” St. Patty’s Day Parade (there’s also a parade in downtown), but its popularity proved too much after 300,000+ people attended the 2009 parade.
Even without the annual festivities, Beverly’s Irish roots run deep. Back in 1886 a real estate entrepreneur named Robert Givens had a reproduction of his Irish fiancée’s family’s castle built so she would feel at home when she moved to Chicago. The three-story limestone structure had 15 rooms and a separate carriage house. But legend has it, the bride passed away before the young couple had a chance to move in. Givens Castle was later purchased by the Beverly Unitarian Fellowship in 1942 and became a church in 1951, which it remains today. Some say the castle is haunted – there have been accounts of jingling noises, unexplained candlelight, eerie sounds, and a mysterious young girl.
The Beverly Branch Library has the city’s largest collection of Irish heritage books and records (in case you want to read up on Givens Castle lore). But to experience how connected Beverly is with the Emerald Isle, you might be better off just having a round at the bar. This area has cornered the market on Irish pubs, which are clustered along Western Avenue on the southeast edge of the neighborhood. Cork and Kerry, McNally’s, Keegan’s Pub, Fox’s and Mrs. O’Leary’s Dubliner are a few happening watering holes that pull a good pint of Guinness. Excluding St. Patrick’s Day, the bars are generally laid-back and comfortable, attracting the local crowd for a drink after work or a little live entertainment on the weekends. Like you’d see in a Dublin pub, the interior décor of the Beverly bars is mainly dark paneled wood and mirrored or stained glass accents. A great spot to sit back, relax and enjoy a beer.
Most of the bars in Beverly serve food, but for certain culinary cravings you’ll have to look further than the neighborhood tap. For upscale Italian cuisine, Franconello’s is a good choice with its selection of pastas, veal, steaks, chicken, seafood and other authentic specialties. The portions are big, so be sure to save room for dessert and get a cannoli, piece of tiramisu, or scoop of homemade gelato. Speaking of scoops, the Original Rainbow Cone is an old school ice cream shop that has been in operation since 1926. If it’s been around that long you know it has to be good! Nicky’s Gill and Yogurt Oasis also has a basic selection of ice cream and frozen yogurt flavors (chocolate, vanilla, strawberry and a daily special). If you’re hungry, Nicky’s whips up excellent beef patties and hot dogs, plus other greasy spoon Chicago favorites like Polish sausage, gyros, chili fries, and giardiniera-topped sandwiches.
Provided by Chicago Real Estate