Since the early 20th century, the Boy Scouts have left an imprint in the Barrington community of their personal achievements and volunteer service. Around 1914, Dr. George Lytle became the Scoutmaster of Troop 10, the first one formed here since the Founding of the Movement in 1910. Its sponsors were the Salem Church, the Chamber of Commerce, a citizens group, and the Methodist Church. Eighteen years later, the Girl Scouts were formed through the School Welfare Committee of the Barrington Woman’s Club.
An outstanding example of the Boys Scouts community service came during the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918. The Scouts, in uniform, patrolled the streets to assist residents for their needs and to help get supplies to those in quarantine.
Girl Scouts enrollment grew like the Boy Scouts, and by 1933, a designated youth meeting place was becoming a necessity. It was during the Depression and the Civil Works Administration, that a project of the New Deal was creating millions of new construction jobs. The Barrington Village Board had contracted for improvements to the Village Hall under the program and needed another project for CWA.
Roy Wilmering, a member of the Barrington District committee of the Northwest Suburban Council of Boy Scouts, supported the need for a Barrington youth meeting place. He first approached the Barrington Park Board and asked if they would permit a cabin to be built on their South Side Park property. The Park Board agreed, stipulating only that the building be used “exclusively by scouts and kindred organizations,” and that the building be “presentable.” Barrington architect John T. Maxon designed a “presentable” cabin and estimated the construction materials needed.
On the day after Thanksgiving in 1933, the CWA Headquarters in Chicago approved the Scout cabin project. With labor assured, the community mounted a volunteer effort to donate construction materials, and, as Barrington has always done, the community stepped up. When the cabin was completed in the fall of 1934, a federal appraiser valued it at $6,000, and said it “was one of the finest scout buildings in the country.” It was indeed “presentable.”
For the past 88 years, the Roy Wilmering Scout Cabin on East Russell Street would be a “home” for the community’s youth; a place of learning, training, celebration, recognition, and camaraderie. In World War II, Girl Scouts learned first aid there, and designated it for use in emergencies if the war came to Chicago.
Earlier this year, after long deliberation, the Cabin’s Governing Board, supported by the Trustees, was dissolved and future governance of the Cabin was given to the Barrington Park Board, on whose land it still is, with the proviso that efforts be made to continue its use for youth purposes. It was deemed that changing economic, social, regulatory, and cultural changes needed a larger administrative framework.
Barbara L. Benson grew up in Kent, England, and later moved to New York. She settled in Barrington and has walked with our history ever since she first arrived here in 1980.
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