Dear Friends: I am Tim O'Connor, General Partner of The Catlow Partners LP, that owns and operates The Catlow, an Historic Landmark theater. Since 1989, The Catlow has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places, largely due to the interior design and craftsmanship of the noted Prairie School sculptor and designer, Alfonso Iannelli, who worked with legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright on Midway Gardens.
Nine years ago, together, we saved The Catlow from going dark by funding the updating of our projection system.
Today, I’m asking, one last time, for your help. The need, this time, is even more critical. Like many other businesses, The Catlow closed due to the COVID pandemic 2 years ago. But, unlike some, we have been unable to reopen and serve our community due to issues that only your donations can address.
For decades, The Catlow enjoyed protected status as a historic building and certain upgrades were not mandated because we were “grandfathered.” That has changed. The Village of Barrington now says that, to reopen, we must make significant/expensive changes to The Catlow Building, (which turns 95 years old in May), including an extensive alarm system and the replacement of our original outer oak doors with new push bar doors for exiting.
The upgrades are desirable and necessary safety measures, but a partnership we expected to assist with these and other costs fell through. Now, it falls on us to meet the demands of the Village.
The Village has applied a no-occupancy ordinance, meaning all the required work must be completed before we can reopen for business and start generating the revenue needed to cover ongoing expenses, including our property tax and utility payments which are past due.
We’re in a “Catch 22” situation. We have significant financial needs but we are blocked from earning money to meet those needs until we address the outstanding matters.
The deadline is near: We have until June to come up with the total due, or face having to lose everything. That would mean total loss of the building and our continued input to the community. There is still so much for The Catlow to offer ahead of us.
My late fiancé Roberta Rapata and I poured our lives into The Catlow/Boloney’s. It would be a tragedy to see these great businesses, so important to our community for nearly a century, lost forever.
So, I am asking one last time, for your help to rescue The Catlow and give us a chance to complete our plan to become a not-for-profit venue for live music performances from a variety of genres as well as live stage performances such as plays and children's recitals and, of course, movies. This is just what our community needs to bring us out of the Covid pandemic doldrums.
With your help, as an officially recognized 501(c)3, we can obtain grants and additional funding that will restore and transform The Catlow into the Historic Gem that our community deserves.
Any amount you can afford will help us out, but larger amounts will be of greater benefit toward our goal. You will have name recognition in our lobby area as well as on our website for all to see. Thank you for your concern. This grand endeavor will be a tremendous boost for the businesses in town as well as a much-needed community center/entertainment showcase for everyone in Barrington and the surrounding communities to enjoy for generations to come. We are seeing this happen with other towns and other independent theaters. It is the post-pandemic future of small theaters and Barrington deserves the best.