212 West Main Street | Barrington, Illinois 60010




The Barrington History Museum, formally the Barrington Area Historical Society was founded in 1968 by local residents dedicated to preserving the history and culture of the Barrington area.  Since that time, the Museum has become an integral part of the Barrington area communities.  Currently the Museum operates from two restored folk Victorian houses on Main Street in Barrington.  The Museum's Store is located on the first floor of the Donlea-Kincaid House.  The Museum's offices are located on the second-floor of the Applebee House.

In 1999 the original Wichman Blacksmith Shop dating back to 1929 was moved from its original location on Station Street in downtown Barrington to the grounds of the Barrington History Museum and located behind the the Donlea-Kincaid House. The Creet Carriage Barn, a Forge, and lobby area were added to the Blacksmith Shop to create a historical streetscape. The Applebee House, Donlea-Kincaid House, Blacksmith Shop, Creet Carriage Barn, Forge, Exhibit Center and Applebee One Room Schoolhouse now comprises the museum complex known as Old Barrington Center.

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.

The Octagon House is a Private Residence and is Not Part of the Museum Campus, please view from sidewalk only. The Octagon House is on the National Register of Historic Places. The house was probably built in the 1860's with the completion circa 1881. The Octagon House has undergoing complete restoration, according to the standards of the U.S. Dept. of The Interior. The Octagon House is located directly across the street from the Barrington History Museum.

Barrington Magazine

The Donlea-Kincaid House - 218 West Main Street, is a folk Victorian style house built in 1898 for Mrs. Patrick Donlea. The Museum Store is located here.

How The Barrington History Museum Began

Published by The Barrington Area Historical Society, Inc. (Now Barrington History Museum),
1980 - 5th Printing, July, 1988

In the early days of earth’s evolutionary life, the Mastodon roamed the Barrington area. Remains of this elephant-type animal were found buried in a peat bog near Interstate Hwy. 90, south of Barrington.

In more recent historical times, the late 1700’s and early 1800’s found this area interspersed with woods and rolling prairies, dotted with small lakes and peat bogs. The animals ranging yesterday’s Barrington can still be found in existence today. They included buffalo, deer, wolves, coyotes, beaver, ermine and many other small wildlife. The carrier pigeon flew through this area by the billions and were joined by large numbers of prairie chicken, quail, eagles and hawks.

The Potawatomie Indians were in this territory when the white men first arrived. The Chippewa and Ottawa tribes also made some use of this region. In 1832, the Blackhawk War broke out in the northwestern part of Illinois, and also in southern Wisconsin. Thousands of troops were sent in by the Government to control these uprisings. Loss in Indian lives was huge. Chief Blackhawk was captured and put in prison. The tribes represented among his slain followers included the Kickapoo, Sac, Winnebago, and Potawatomie. When peace was finally achieved in 1833, a treaty was signed in which the Indians agreed to leave this territory and move west of the Mississippi. They were allowed three years to accomplish their relocation, and were paid the sum of $100,000. The government agreed that no white man would be allowed a land grant to homestead in the territory before August, 1836.

However, as was the case with many Indian treaties, the white man broke his word. There are records of Jessie F. Miller and William Van Orsdal squatting on land in 1834, in a section of Barrington Township. This would be in the location of where the Barrington Center Church now is and also on the south side of Brinker Road. Of course, that was all heavily wooded territory, and later on they called that section Millers Grove. Records further show that in 1834, there were still about 500 Potawatomie Indians living in an encampment close to the land settled by Miller and Van Orsdal.

In 1836, more pioneers from the East migrated to this area after hearing tales of the fertile soil in Illinois. Some of these people originated from Great Barrington, Massachusetts, thus giving Barrington its name. The land grants issued to these pioneers were signed by President Tyler and later by President Polk. Most of the pioneers came by covered wagon, drawn by oxen. Others came by way of the Great Lakes to Chicago. Still more traveled up the Mississippi to the Illinois River and then overland to this region.

The pioneers’ first dwellings were log cabins with dirt floors. The cabins and the furnishings in them were very simple in design. Although it would take at least two men to construct a log cabin, all but the roof could be erected in a single day.

In December of 1840, our Barrington pioneers met in the cabin of William H. Otis, located at the southeast corner of Route 62 and Bartlett Roads. At that meeting they decided to incorporate the area as Barrington Township. The minutes taken at that meeting show eighteen votes for incorporation and one against. The following month, the pioneers again met in the same cabin to map out school districts. In 1846, a log school house was built where the Catlow Theater now stands on West Main Street. This building accommodated the few children of the area who would walk several miles to be taught only as much as the school master himself knew. Log schoolhouses built around that time had one pot-bellied stove with a jacket around part of it to deflect the heat. The first person, pupil or teacher, arriving first in the morning had to go to the wood-shed and get the key to unlock the school. That person was responsible for starting the fire in the stove.

Glimpses of Yesterday - Memories of Barrington