Barrington White House readies for bigger 2017

  • The Barrington White House will play host to more cultural events in 2017, its second full year as a community center, according to its operator.

    The Barrington White House will play host to more cultural events in 2017, its second full year as a community center, according to its operator. Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer, June 2016

 
 
Updated 12/26/2016 11:54 AM

Looking ahead to what's expected to be an expanded slate of events at the Barrington White House in 2017, village officials this month voted to retain the services of the community center's management firm for another year.

Raseman Group, LLC, will provide operations management, fundraising, marketing, communications and consulting services for the downtown facility, under the agreement approved by village trustees. The firm is led by Beth Raseman, a Barrington resident and former trustee who has been with the White House project since its launch in 2013.

 

Mayor Karen Darch said the decision to keep Raseman was not a difficult one.

"She is really a leader and has so much energy and love for the project," Darch said. "She has a great management handle on what's happening in fundraising, programming and everything. She is a good value for all that she does."

Raseman said the White House did a lot of growing in 2016, its first full year of operation after a $6.8 million effort to convert the 118-year-old former residence into a cultural arts and community center. Since officially reopening in July 2015, the White House has hosted social events like weddings and receptions, corporate meetings, and cultural events like concerts, exhibitions and speakers.

The house also is home to the offices of three Barrington-based nonprofit organizations.

Raseman said as 2016 went on and more people learned about the White House, the facility was used more and more often.

"It is so many people's first time in the house," Raseman said. "When they get here, they love it and want to come back ... the main thing is about awareness that the facility is available for rent."

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Operators have been pleasantly surprised about the community support for cultural events at the White House. Raseman said they would schedule a speaker or classical music act on a weeknight and expect an audience of 20 to 30, only to see a full house of 150 attend.

Looking forward to next year, Raseman said the house will host more cultural events, including a slate focusing on the humanities featuring presentations from local academics. They include a presentation Jan. 13 by Kelly J. Keegan, conservator at The Art Institute of Chicago, who will discuss how high-tech imaging and scientific analysis has uncovered stories concealed in paintings by impressionist masters; and Harper College President Kenneth Ender, discussing a new educational concept called the "Communiversity" on Feb. 26.

Raseman also hinted at performances by a Winston Churchill impersonator and a Frank Sinatra-style singer. For a full list of scheduled events, visit www.barringtonswhitehouse.com/events.

Among the other happenings planned for next year is the installation of a permanent donor wall near the main entrance to recognize those whose support made the community center possible. The house at 145 W. Main St. initially was built in 1898 for local banker John Robertson. After it had fallen into disrepair, the village bought the structure for $1.8 million in 2007 and six years later launched the fundraising effort to turn it into the community center it is today.

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