The Illinois-Wisconsin Railroad decided in 1854 to continue the railroad westward from Des Plaines to Harvard, Illinois. Engineers for the railroad purchased forty acres of land from Benjamin Felter whose log cabin at that time was located at Spring Creek and East Main Street. The engineers then laid out streets and lots on the Cook County side of Main Street, and moved a small railroad depot to the newly-purchased land.
At about the same time, a farmer named Willard Stevens owned eighty acres on the Lake County side of Main Street. He divided forty of his eighty acres in the same manner as the railroad engineers. These lots were measured in English terms, being one chain (sixty-six feet) by two chains (one hundred thirty-two feet).
A bit later, a roundhouse was built west of Spring Street. There was also a cattle chute, and farmers from around the area used to drive their cattle right down Main Street to reach the cattle chute. Trains with cattle cars would come as far as Barrington, then return the animals to market in Chicago.
In 1855, the first milled lumber house was built in Barrington, by Ed Lamey. It is still standing in its original location at 328 Franklin Street. Lumber for the house was brought in on the railroad.
Mud streets, dug wells, outside privies and candles for light were the up-to-date conveniences for that period. In 1857, M. B. McIntosh of 219 South Cook Street purchased the first kerosene lamp in Barrington. Dug wells with hand-pumps were the main source of water for all the townsfolk. There were three dug wells in the village streets for public use and for watering the horses. The first streets were mud or dust until gravel was finally used to improve them. By 1889, Main Street was graveled to the city limits, but the remaining streets were not improved for quite a while.
In 1863, the settlers decided to incorporate as the Village of Barrington. About three hundred people lived in the village at that time. The charter for incorporation was official in 1865. That year Homer Wilmarth was appointed the first Village Mayor. He was followed in 1866 by M. B. McIntosh, who was voted into office.
Prior to 1883 there was a grist mill on South Hough Street located near the present Hillside Avenue. The grist mill was powered by wind and was on the highest location in Barrington. In August, 1883, it burned completely. In 1884, a steam-powered grist mill was built just south of the railroad tracks east of North Hough Street. The owners would grind about eight barrels of flour a day, and much of it would be shipped by rail to other towns.
In Barrington’s early days, the town was protected from fire by a volunteer fire department. The volunteers were badly restricted in their efforts because they only had available three wells to use for their bucket brigade. In 1890, a fire broke out in the hotel on Main Street. In a short time, the fire had spread and was finally stopped by tying a heavy rope around a small building and then attaching the rope to the engine of the midnight train. The train pulled down the building, creating a fire-break. In 1892, another bad fire broke out in Ed Sabin’s saloon and consumed the entire block east of South Cook Street and between East Station Street and Park Avenue. In 1898, yet another block of business was destroyed. In order to better fight any future fires, the Village provided a water system for Barrington. That first deep well is still is use, located under the floor of the Village Hall. Barrington then purchased their first piece of fire equipment, a hose cart which had to be hauled to the fire by the volunteers. Later, the Village also purchased a hook and ladder wagon.
212 West Main Street | Barrington, Illinois 60010
In 2000 we have moved to our new location in the "Old Barrington Center" at 212 W. Main Street in Barrington, IL. Please call 847.381.1730 for information about our events and exhibits.