The Village of Barrington is a community rich in history. The Our Town Barrington Volunteers Group has plaqued ten key historic sites within the Village Center. Each plaque provides a brief history of each featured site and/or building. Take a self-guided history trail though downtown Barrington and try to envision what life was like well over one-hundred years ago.
Click below for the map of the self-guided history trail through downtown Barrington:
Here are the ten sites highlighted on the Village Center tour:
- 105 South Cook Street (McGonigal’s Pub)
- 201 South Cook Street (Barrington Flower Shop)
- 205 Park Avenue (Park Avenue Wine Bar & Merchant)
- 135 Park Avenue (Mia Sorella; Posh Essentials)
- Corner of Park Avenue and South Cook Street
- 201 South Spring Street (Barrington Metra Station)
- 200 South Hough Street (Barrington Village Hall)
- 145 West Main (Formerly Barrington Realty)
- 223 West Main (Corporate Identity)
- 200 North Applebee Street (The Ice House Mall and Village Shops)
Settlement history of the Barrington area begins in the late 1830s with surveying and land sales of what, in 1850 were to become Barrington and Cuba Townships. Settlers in Barrington Township were primarily from Massachusetts, Vermont and upper New York State. Cuba Township, formerly Troy, was settled with people from Troy, New York. Mostly farmers, attracted to the available land, they first traded with towns like Elgin and Dundee along the Fox River.
In 1854, the northwest extension of the Illinois and Wisconsin Railroad, later the Chicago Northwestern Railroad, now Metra, from Palatine and Deer Grove to McHenry County, provided the impetus for the founding of a village at what became known as Barrington Station. The railroad purchased and platted 40 acres of land settled by Benjamin Felter, whose log cabin stood at the present day site of 311 East Main Street, in Cook County, east of Hough Street. In 1855, Willard Stevens purchased 80 acres directly to the north in Lake County. This was the nucleus of the Village of Barrington, which was incorporated in 1863 with 300 residents. Because of the Civil War, a delay occurred in returning the Incorporation Deeds to Barrington until 1865, when the Illinois legislature granted the Charter on February 16, 1865
On March 20th, 1865, the first Village Board meeting was held in the house of A.K. Van Gorder at the northwest corner of Cook and Lake Streets, built in 1862. A later owner was Woodbridge Hawley. In the 1980's, John and Yvette Bilanko used the framework of the original house and interpreted its style in creating Woodbridge Square. At that 1865 meeting, Homer Wilmarth was appointed Mayor for one year.
On the northeast corner of Cook and Lake Streets, still standing, was the home of Milius B. McIntosh, who in 1866, became the first elected Village President. His garden extended north on Cook Street and east on Lake Street, site now of the Harris Bank parking lot.
As you walk around the original historic area of Barrington, picture the unpaved streets, wooden slat sidewalks, some of them on elevated platforms, houses and businesses of frame construction, picket fences defining residential backyards confining an assortment of livestock and barnyard animals. Outhouses were a necessary feature behind every business and private residence. Some public outhouses were located through the downtown area.
Barrington began replacing its wooden plank walks with cement pavement in 1907, but hitching posts with rings for tethering horses were provided for the convenience of residents from the surrounding countryside who came to trade in "their town, Barrington ".
Major fires defined changes to Barrington’s downtown at the end of the nineteenth century. In 1890, fire swept along the north side of East Main Street east of the railroad, and several buildings were lost. In 1893 another fire destroyed most of the block that is now Park Avenue. In 1898, fire destroyed buildings along the north side of Main Street from Hough Street to the railroad tracks. Downtown gained a more substantial appearance, as the burned frame structures were replaced with brick buildings, many of which we see in good use today although mostly, facades have been substantially altered. The last great fire of Barrington was on December 19, 1989, when Lipofsky’s Department Store, then the oldest continually operating business in Barrington along with the Harris (First National) Bank and the Barrington Courier Review, was completely destroyed.
For further historical information, consult microfilms at the Barrington Area Library of the Barrington Review/Courier Review, the Arnett C. Lines Historical papers, Census data microfilms and Arnett C. Lines Genealogical records and "They Builded Better Than They Knew: Historical Perspectives of the Barrington Area" by Barbara L. Benson.
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