Cozy Up to Barrington’s Top Cultural Venue

Barrington’s White House, located on Main Street downtown, has become the village’s premier gathering space for all variety of cultural events, from visual arts displays and musical performances to lectures and holiday attractions.

In between, it’s a popular site for weddings and private gatherings such as business retreats, nonprofit fundraisers and private parties.

The White House’s intimacy, in particular, sets it apart from area venues. Most events hold less than 130 people.

“The musicians, in particular, love it, because that is really the original intent of chamber music, that you did it in small venues, up close,” says Rollin Potter, cultural director. “But, it’s great for lectures, too, because people feel very personally attached to this speaker who is only 15 feet away.”

This season brings an exciting lineup to Barrington’s White House.

The monthly 3rd Thursday Art Night Out draws together local artists and arts patrons for a public reception in the first-floor parlors. On Oct. 17, from 6-8 p.m., celebrate the work of Barb Rydz Ross, whose vibrant acrylic paintings demonstrate abstraction and bold uses of color. Artwork is available for purchase; the event is free to attend.

On Oct. 21, former Chicago Blackhawk and Hall of Famer Eddie Olczyk reflects on his NHL hockey days, his work in broadcasting and the impact of his recent battle with colon cancer. Following a Q&A, Olczyk will be autographing his new book “Beating the Odds in Hockey and in Life.”

Just for children, the players of TesserAct Theatre Ensemble present spooky Halloween tales on Oct. 26, at 11 a.m. Kids up to middle school age are encouraged to wear a costume.

The cozy third-floor ballroom becomes a chamber concert stage the next day, on Oct. 27, from 3-5 p.m., as principal players from the Elgin Symphony Orchestra perform pieces by Mendelssohn and Mozart.

The monthly Courageous Conversations lecture series returns Nov. 12, from 7-9 p.m., as Dr. Arin N. Reeves explores “Cultivating Curiosity.” The researcher, author and advisor shares ideas for how we can keep our taste for learning about and adapting to the world around us.

Barrington will get its laughs on the night of Nov. 16, as the Queen Bs Improv troupe returns for another hilarious show. The family-friendly performance is driven by audience suggestions that lead to hilarious and unexpected scenes.

November’s 3rd Thursday Art Night Out presents paintings by Barrington artist and photographer Jim Root, whose work reflects the landscapes of Maine and the Midwest. Working mostly in oils, Root captures dynamic shapes and plays of light among quiet fishing villages and serene Midwestern landscapes.

Return for more artwork displays on Nov. 29-30, during the Deck the Walls festive pop-up gallery and art sale. Presenting a collection of original works that could make a unique Christmas gift, the artists of the Barrington Cultural Arts Center will be displaying their works, representing a variety of styles.

December brings the holiday season into full swing, starting with a holiday open house on Dec. 7, from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Activities include tours of the fully restored White House and lots of photo opportunities among the festively decorated home. The fun continues with a Frank Sinatra tribute Dec. 7-8, a Courageous Conversation on “The Art of Listening,” Dec. 11, high school madrigals singing on Dec. 15 and a Christmas Carol Sing-Along Dec. 22.

Built in 1898 as the private home of a successful local businessman, Barrington’s White House was a prime gathering space for socialites of the era. Its third-floor ballroom and twin downstairs parlors hosted many a special gathering.

In 2007, the Village of Barrington purchased the home and began a multimillion-dollar restoration that has earned commendations for its attention to detail and its preservation of the home’s ornate architectural features.

Since opening to the public in 2015, Barrington’s White House has been supported by private donations and revenue from events. Sponsorships are always welcomed, and a special fundraising event is being planned for next year.

“In many cases, you’re hearing a concert or a lecture at a price that is maybe only 50 or 60 percent of what you’d pay for it in downtown Chicago,” says Potter. “And, at the same time, you’re going to park just half a block away. You can go to a restaurant down the street, and you don’t have to worry about parking, travel – any of those things you consider when going downtown.”

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Barrington’s White House is located at 145 W. Main St., Barrington, (224) 512-4284.