Barrington White House ready for village's 150th 4th of July

Barrington White House will open on 4th, in time for sesquicentennial

  • Beth Raseman, project coordinator, holds the new sign that will hang in front of the White House in Barrington.

    Beth Raseman, project coordinator, holds the new sign that will hang in front of the White House in Barrington. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Construction crews at the White House in Barrington work at a fever pitch to complete the renovations before the Fourth of July deadline.

    Construction crews at the White House in Barrington work at a fever pitch to complete the renovations before the Fourth of July deadline. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Mark Welsh/mwelsh@dailyherald.comWorker Paul Wilczenski of Arlington Heights stains the trim at the White House in Barrington as other workers work at a fever pitched pace hoping to complete the work before the 4th of July deadline

    Mark Welsh/mwelsh@dailyherald.comWorker Paul Wilczenski of Arlington Heights stains the trim at the White House in Barrington as other workers work at a fever pitched pace hoping to complete the work before the 4th of July deadline

  • Mark Welsh/mwelsh@dailyherald.comCopper gutters and downspouts accent the White House in Barrington as workers work at a fever pitched pace hoping to complete the work before the 4th of July deadline

    Mark Welsh/mwelsh@dailyherald.comCopper gutters and downspouts accent the White House in Barrington as workers work at a fever pitched pace hoping to complete the work before the 4th of July deadline

 
 
Updated 7/2/2015 6:22 AM

As residents enjoyed the festivities at last year's Fourth of July, the Barrington White House was empty, its sagging steps blocked so people wouldn't try to watch the parade from its once-stately front porch.

But this year, the White House's elegant doors will be wide open, thanks to the herculean effort from a team of contractors, volunteers and village officials who got the massive renovation project done in time for the village's sesquicentennial Fourth of July celebration.

 

"It is a birthday present to ourselves, a gift to Barrington," Village President Karen Darch said. "And the community has itself to thank."

Darch and others will be on hand after the Fourth of July parade Saturday to unwrap the gift that is the White House. Once it is opened, residents, who have been seen the outside of the building transformed over the past 12 months, will be able to finally see the $6.1 million renovations for themselves.

Project coordinator Beth Raseman said she has been getting more and more calls from residents as the house has looked better and better.

"I get calls every day from people that are like, 'Thank you, the guardians look great, the outside looks great,' so this will be really great for everyone to see what the inside looks like," Raseman said.

Since it was built in 1898, the White House has been a residential home and a commercial property. On Saturday, it will begin a new life as a community center, hosting events of all kinds.

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On their tours, residents will find the first floor has been restored by craftsmen who painstakingly fixed, replaced and remade much of the ornate woodwork. The main floor will host free weekly events on Thursdays -- in fact, so many have been booked, Raseman said they are considering opening it up for a second night each week.

The second floor is being leased to local nonprofits including the Barrington Area Conservation Trust and Barrington Children's Charities. The money made by the leases will help sustain the White House's upkeep.

The top floor is a ballroom with vaulted ceilings capable of hosting large events. Raseman said several interested young brides-to-be have toured the top floor, even though it wasn't yet painted and the chandeliers hadn't been hung.

Organizers have raised millions of dollars from donors, but $1.1 million is still needed to fully fund the project.

"Some early donors gave because they want to help and could envision it from the beginning," Raseman said. "A lot of people now see what a quality job is being done and what a transformation it is making to the house, and they want to be a part of it."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Donations will be accepted at the house on Saturday during the afternoon tours after the parade until 4 p.m.

Beyond the tours and donation tables there will be a lot of activity at the White House on Saturday. People from the Sesquicentennial Committee will be there, bringing their historical knowledge and demonstrations of what life was like back when the White House was first built.

Much as they did at the Barrington Area Library in April during the 1865 Festival, volunteers will have historic photos and memorabilia from the village's past on display.

Beyond all that is happening at the White House, much more will be happening in Barrington for the Fourth of July.

The Lions Club will host the 31st annual Fourth of July Brat Tent Festival in the Metra station parking lot providing food, music and family entertainment throughout the holiday weekend.

On Friday, the main tent will honor those who serve, with a ceremony at 3:30 p.m. On Saturday, the entertainment will culminate with a fireworks show near the high school. On Sunday, the Barrington Area Ministerial Association will host a Families, Fun and Faith Ice Cream Social at the brat tent from 2 to 6 p.m. The social will provide an afternoon of music games and ice cream.

The 15th annual Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital Family Fitness Run begins at 7:15 a.m. Saturday at Park Avenue and Cook Street in Barrington. The 10K run is through Barrington and Barrington Hills, and a 5K run/walk and 2K walk is in Barrington. Proceeds benefit the Barrington Cultural Arts Commission.

The annual Fourth of July parade will step off from Barrington High School at 10 a.m. Saturday, run along Main Street and will end at the Barrington train station. The theme is "Barrington Through the Decades," and floats will each represent a decade and portray village life through the last 150 years.

On Sunday, the Chicago Salmon will play three games against a fellow Vintage Base Ball Association team, the Creston Regulators, as well as local players, starting at noon at Miller Park.

Darch said all the special activities celebrating the village's 150th anniversary could not have been done without dedicated volunteers.

"The Sesquicentennial Committee has been meeting for several years," Darch said. "It's been a lot of people doing a lot of work for a long time for a great community celebration."

Darch said she is looking forward to the White House reopening as a wonderful center of activity for Barrington.

"It's really, really nice -- we couldn't be more pleased with it," Darch said. "Hopefully it will stand for 150 years and another 150 on top of that."

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