Barrington's 'White House' renovation plans move ahead

Posted4/15/2014 5:30 AM
  • Beth Raseman, a Barrington White House board member, discusses details of the exterior of the house last November.

      Beth Raseman, a Barrington White House board member, discusses details of the exterior of the house last November. George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

Barrington's plan to renovate the 116-year-old "White House" into a village cultural and community center took another step forward Monday night when the village board approved a $28,300 contract to a local engineering firm to design a new, more accessible entrance to the building.

Greg Summers, the village's director of development services, said it now is impossible for anyone in a wheelchair to access the Victorian home built in 1898.

In addition, the firm will design a new drainage system for the property, and a new entrance driveway from Main Street and a secondary access drive from Station Street.

The contract is just one part of the $5 million project being worked on by village employees and a group of volunteers, according to Barrington Village President Karen Darch.

Darch could not say exactly how much money has been raised for the project since fundraising efforts began in November, but she said the effort was in full swing.

"There has been a positive response by the community so far," Darch said. "But we are not quite there yet."

In addition to asking the community to donate money, the organizers have submitted several grant requests, Darch said.

Once complete, the first floor will retain its original configuration and serve as a gathering area for events or offer showrooms for artistic presentations. The second floor will house offices for local nonprofit agencies that will pay rent to the village.

The current ceiling height on that floor will be lowered to create higher ceilings on the third floor, which will be converted to a ballroom -- its original use -- capable of hosting an event for 150 people.

A catering kitchen will be installed on the first floor, which Darch said could host community cooking classes and be able to serve large events such as weddings.

Project organizers are working with a deadline -- the goal is to have the center operational in time for the village's sesquicentennial celebration in the spring of 2015.

Darch said the renovations would not begin until roughly 80 percent of the funds, $4 million, had been raised.

Summers said the design phase of the project is approaching 75 percent complete. He said the village decided to work with Gewalt Hamilton in part because of the firm's familiarity with the area through its work on the neighboring Hough Main Development, which it they can complete the plans faster.

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