Check out these unique destinations that reflect the genuine character of our region.
The Catlow Theater
116 W. Main St., Barrington, (847) 381-0777, thecatlow.com
This classic movie house offers a grand setting for watching new and old movies alike.
Built in 1926 by businessman Wright Catlow, the theater sits upon the former Auditorium, Barrington’s original gathering space and movie house. The new theater was built to accommodate the increasing demand for motion pictures, and was designed by Chicago architects Betts & Holcomb to resemble a medieval English manor.
The elaborate interior was designed by Alfonso Iannelli, a Prairie Style designer who had worked with Frank Lloyd Wright. Ianelli filled the Catlow with intricate stencil designs on the ceilings and walls, gargoyle statues on the entryway fountain and a hand-painted curtain.
The Catlow’s first screening was Slide, Kelly, Slide in 1927, but the theater also hosted traveling vaudeville shows, including appearances by Gene Autry – a large draw for Barrington’s then mostly rural audience.
Catlow retired and sold his theater in 1964. It transferred hands again in 1988 when local investors bought the theater with the intention of restoring it and making it a destination for first- and second-run movies. Today, it still shows many new releases, in addition to viewings of older films.
The elaborate building has received numerous accolades, including being placed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 2012, the Catlow’s owners led a successful Kickstarter campaign online to fund the installation of digital projection equipment.
Check the website for listings of upcoming shows and viewing times.
Durant House Museum
37W700 Dean St., St. Charles, (630) 377-6424, ppfv.org/durant-house
Known as Kane County’s “Little House on the Prairie,” the Durant House Museum provides a window into life during the 1800s. Bryan Durant moved to the area in 1837 and built this small farmhouse, where he eventually lived with his wife and six children.
About 40 years later, Godfrey and Christina Peterson bought the house and also raised six children there. They made minor changes to the interior design, including the addition of a Victorian-style kitchen.
In the 1970s, after being neglected for some time, the house was restored and turned into a museum to represent the area’s longstanding history. Today, visitors can experience how the area’s early settlers survived and did their chores. Through a host of programs and special events, visitors can see volunteer docents – both adults and children dressed in period costumes – play the fiddle, make a home-cooked meal, and display other aspects of early pioneer life.
The museum also offers multiple programs for school field trips and Boy Scout/Girl Scout activities. Tours are available by appointment.
Groundhog Day Filming Site Plaques
Downtown Woodstock, (815) 334-2620, woodstockgroundhog.org
The 1993 movie Groundhog Day may be set in Punxsutawney, Pa., but many scenes were filmed in Woodstock, because of the town’s historic square and prime landmarks.
Groundhog Day follows meteorologist Phil Connors, played by North Shore native Bill Murray, who is assigned to cover Pennsylvania’s annual celebration. However, Feb. 2 keeps repeating itself every time he wakes up. It’s up to Connors to find a way out of this time loop.
While at work in Woodstock in 1992, movie crews filmed 15 sites around town, each spot now marked by a permanent metal plaque commemorating its role in the film.
Ned’s Corner at Cass Street and the gazebo (pictured right), The Woodstock Opera House, the Woodstock Theater, the Old Courthouse, and the Cherry Street Inn (now an actual, operating bed & breakfast) are just a few of the locations you’ll pass on the official walking tour.
But, for a more lively tour of these filming sites, visitors can follow a guided tour every February during the annual Groundhog Days celebration, this year scheduled for Jan. 29-Feb. 8.
During this guided walking tour, locals involved in the filming process will share their stories of working on set.
The nearly weeklong Groundhog Days event includes the traditional seeking of the groundhog’s shadow, Groundhog Trivia, showings of the movie at Woodstock Theater and Groundhog Bowling at Wayne’s Lanes (another filming location).
Find a full schedule of Groundhog Days events and all 15 filming locations on the festival’s website.