Catlow Theater

116 W. Main Street,
Barrington, IL 60010

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Catlow Theater

A classic neighborhood movie theater with a truly unique architectural blend.

Named for its original owner, a local businessman named Wright Catlow, this Tudor Revival/Jacobean-inspired theater opened on May 28th, 1927. It was designed by the Chicago architectural firm of Betts & Holcomb.

The main historical feature of the Catlow Theater is the interior design by renowned sculptor & designer, Alfonso Iannelli, who collaborated with such famous architects as Frank Lloyd Wright, Barry Byrne, Purcell & Emlslie, and Bruce Goff. (More historical information on Iannelli available at the Catlow website.)

The Catlow Theater featured movies and live acts on its stage from 1927 to 1933. Some of the famous artists appearing there include Gene Autry, Sally Rand – the fan dancer, and Red Norvo. The theater changed over to a movies-only format by 1934.

In 1988, the Catlow Theater added the convenience of in-theater dining via the adjoining Boloney’s Sandwich Shop. The following year, the Catlow Theater was placed on the National Register Of Historic Places.

The Catlow Theater was the first theater in Illinois to have a website (1995) and one of only a handful in the country to have one at the time.

The Catlow Theater is still in operation and still showing movies. Its mid-run features are just $4 a seat.

The owners are currently in negotiations with the Village of Barrington to purchase the theater for use as a Community/Performing Arts Center.

Contributed by Tim O'Connor

Recent comments (view all 22 comments)

GaryRickert on August 14, 2007 at 4:35 pm

m2violin: I don’t know when it was removed but it can’t be much later than 1968 (I would have thought earlier). I think it was removed by a Larry Coleman and someone else. They tried to install it in a church. Terry Kleven found it in a house’s basement and sold
it to me in maybe 1970. I only got the console; I don’t know what happened to the rest of the stuff. Someone told me the 16' diaphone was left behind in the theatre and was disposed of sometime later by persons unknown. You can reach Terry at 612-331-2444. I know he knows more than I do.

Marktech on October 6, 2007 at 10:19 pm

I serviced the Catlow projection and sound system in the 80’s and 90’s. I still remember Jim the relief projectionist and also the old gentleman who was the original full time projectionist there. He retired in the late 80’s and Jim retired sometime in the mid 90’s. I also remember him telling me about how he installed the very fisrt television antenna in Barrington.

The Catlow sound system was upgraded in the mid 90’s to include JBL 4675 stage speakers and JBL 8330 Surrounds. These speakers replaced the original RCA magnetic sound system speakers. In the booth we installed a Dolby CP-65 processor and new BGW power amps. This gear replaced an again EPRAD Starscope system.

Also in the late 90’s the Catlow underwent major structurial modifications. The main roof is supported by large wooden beams and some of these beams began to pull apart and or crack. This very extensive structural modification was done to guarantee the Catlow would not collapse and that it would be around for many years to come.

I do miss Baloneys alot… Roberta was constantly making the sandwiches bigger and bigger… Tim would raise the prices to accomodate the extra use of stuff going into them and then Roberta would make them larger yet…. It got to the point that if you could eat half the sandwich for lunch you were doing pretty good. The other half would be consumed for dinner.

We have no good deli’s out here in SLC… Hey Tim and Roberta… want to expand the sandwich shop?

DavidZornig on April 25, 2009 at 6:42 pm

Wow, I had no idea this place existed.
Thanks to CT & everyone whose posted pictures.

kencmcintyre on May 20, 2009 at 11:20 pm

Here is a December 1968 ad from the Daily Herald:

tim on April 15, 2010 at 7:10 am

“They should renovate this place its sort of a dump”

Yeah, we would love to, but with what money? We’re doing the best we can considering the times. There’s a lot more competition (with all the latest equipment) out there these days. Being an old-time single screen theater isn’t easy, but we’re still plugging along on our own. And most of our loyal patrons seem to enjoy coming here.

TLSLOEWS on April 21, 2010 at 8:32 pm

Good luck Tim,some people think money justs falls out of the sky.Nice looking vertical and marquee.

m2violin on July 26, 2012 at 11:01 pm

The Catlow Theater is threatened with extinction with Hollywood’s move to digital films. The cost of new equipment to show digital films runs around $100K. No problem for the huge multiplex chain theaters-but for a small single-screen cinema like The Catlow, this can easily put our beloved cinema out of business.

Tim and his fiance, Roberta, have launched a fundraising campaign to get the money for the new equipment and keep The Catlow alive and kicking. Go to the website below to contribute. In just one day 179 supporters have already pledged more than $16K for the new equipment. Barrington residents, those of us who grew up in Barrington, and cinema lovers from around the world are rising up to save this icon from extinction.

PS to Tim: You and Roberta are doing a FANTASTIC job! Thank you!

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 14, 2014 at 1:53 pm

A brief article about the Catlow Theatre appears on this page of Exhibitors Herald and Moving Picture World of April 14, 1928. Two photos of the auditorium can be seen on this page.

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