Long-time Barrington resident, Marlene Tourville remembers days gone by as she seeks the future owner/occupant of her late husband, Ray Tourville’s storied 113 South Cook Street barber shop.
These days, the walkup commercial building for sale at 113 South Cook Street is rented by a luxury interior design firm. Its own interior is a colorful palette of fabric samples and paint swatches, a sparkling chandelier here, a zebra print rug over there. The walls are decked with vibrant artwork, colorful statement pieces that are nothing if not modern.
If these walls could talk, however, their story would be anything but modern. Just the opposite, in fact—theirs would be a tale of Barrington’s bygone days.
Out front, above the “For Sale” sign in the window, the fading words on the storefront awning hint at its most recent past: The Heart of Europe Café, formerly Spring Donut. Run by Polish sisters, this quaint single-story building was for a time filled daily with the sweet scent of caramelized dough from their locally famous chimney cakes.
But this building next door to McGonigal’s Irish Pub has lived many lives, its history stretching back a century to its days as a butcher shop and grocery store.
“Herman Wente has bought the Alberson meat market in Barrington, Ill.,” announced a 1921 edition of The National Provisioner, a meat industry trade publication.
Back then the awning read “Wente & Adams.” Next door was Barrington’s post office as well as Burandt’s, a corner store with a sign listing a few of the goodies inside: “Candy, Soda, Cigars.” With a squint of my eyes, I can make out these details from a framed black-and-white photograph that Marlene Tourville, 89, has brought with her when she meets me at the building on a recent afternoon.
To Marlene, whose family is selling 113 South Cook Street, this place will forever be Ray’s Barber Shop.
Her late husband, Ray Tourville, set up shop here in 1961. John Kennedy had just been inaugurated, West Side Story and Breakfast at Tiffany’s were headed for the big screen, and men were asking for crew cuts, short comb-overs, and mop tops. Over the next five decades, Ray’s Barber Shop became a Barrington institution.
“Everybody knew Ray the Barber,” Marlene tells me.
We’re seated a few feet from where Ray clipped hair and held court. Back then it wasn’t modern art on the exposed brick wall but photographs of Barrington’s boys before and after their first haircuts, a collection that grew through the years.
In her 2002 local history, Voices of Barrington, Diane P. Kostick devoted a chapter to Ray Tourville, in which she described the air in the shop as a “potpourri of fragrances: witch hazel, Old Spice, Aqua Velva, cigars and pipe tobacco.” There was an antique barber pole in a window front corner and newspaper clippings tacked to a corkboard that chronicled the latest victories of Barrington’s high school sports teams.
Marlene reminisces about Cook Street bustling with shoppers bound for Lipofsky’s Department Store, teens meeting next door for sodas and milkshakes at Patti & Anne’s Towne Shoppe, the morning and evening flow of train commuters passing by the storefront while Ray worked his scissors and comb inside.
“It was a busy little street,” she says. Sometimes, when something of note transpired in Barrington, newspapermen would step off the train and make a beeline for Ray’s Barber Shop, knowing it was a clearinghouse for local chatter.
“Ray was an icon in Barrington … and a veritable town crier,” the former managing editor of The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus, Roger Ruthart, once wrote of the man who cut his hair for nearly 30 years, calling him the best source in town for news of who had moved away, had a child, got a job, or got married. “It seemed every boy in town got his hair cut by “Ray The Barber” at some time or another.”
Including Ray and Marlene’s four children. “But only at night,” Marlene points out, so as not to preclude any paying customers. Ever mindful of his limited income, Ray worried that someone might one day buy the building and raise his rent. So in 1978, the Tourvilles decided to purchase it, and Ray partitioned the shop to create a little extra income, subletting the space through the years to a variety of tenants.
“You couldn’t ask for a better location—truly, you couldn’t,” Marlene says as we part ways.
Outside, it’s summer. Next door, two men are talking over pints at a picnic table outside McGonigal’s Pub. Across the street at Cook Street Coffee, the sidewalk tables are filled with friends and remote workers sipping their afternoon caffeine. Railway bells begin to chime as an afternoon Metra pulls into the station.
Time marches on.
Two years after Ray Tourville opened his barbershop on Cook Street, Barrington celebrated its first one hundred years as a village. If a new business were to move into his old shop today and be blessed with his staying power, they’d still be there when the village celebrates its second one hundred years.
The Tourville family commercial storefront property at 113 South Cook Street is currently for sale. Want to have your own business right in the heart of the Village of Barrington? Call Liz Luby of The Luby Group with @properties at 847-691-3150 today for more information or to schedule a tour of this special historic Barrington property and STAY TUNED! There will be more to come on who the next owners will be and what their plans are for this special space steps away from all of the action downtown Barrington has to offer!
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