Barry, IL photos Barry, Illinois - Heritage Embracing Progress Barry, Illinois - Heritage Embracing Progress

In 1836, the original village of Worcester was platted by a St. Louis firm. Six weeks later, the first residents, David Greene and his family, moved into town. Most of the streets laid out were named after Naval officers of the War of 1812. As a plan to take care of certain needs of the town, four special blocks were laid out. These blocks were named Church, College, Market, and Merchant Squares. The plan also included seven parks located around the edge of the plat. Of those seven parks, only one, Lafayette Park remains today. The very first activity held in Lafayette Park was a Fourth of July celebration where a 90 foot Liberty Pole was erected.

In 1839, the people of Worcester petitioned the state to establish a Post Office. They found that there was already a Worcester, Illinois, and they would have to pick a new name for the town. A prominent citizen, Mrs. Mary Brown, was given the honor of naming the new town. She picked Barre after her hometown of Barre, Vermont. When the state clerk received the petition, he recorded it as Barry. Since there was a state senator or representative from the area by that name, the name was allowed to remain.

With the building of the railroad in 1869, Barry experienced a "golden" era of growth and development. However, in March of 1894, half of the businesses and a few residences were destroyed by fire. The fire started in the Hollembeak Opera House, and in less than two hours, thirty-five buildings burned to the ground. The damage was estimated at $150,000, which was a considerable amount of money in those days. Traditionally noted for taking things in stride, Barry citizens promptly rebuilt the entire business district in a few months. In June of 1913, businesses on the west side of Bainbridge Street, south from the alley to Main Street, were again destroyed by fire. This damage was estimated at $50,000. Because of the fires, most of the business district is 19th century architecture. During the past few years, many of the downtown buildings have been restored to their turn of the century elegance.

The City Fathers and citizens of Barry have set high standards to keep Barry a beautiful city, and progressively growing community. Through the years, newer and bigger schools have been built, a public library established, new businesses opened, sewer and water lines improved and expanded, churches constructed, a public swimming pool built by donations from area citizens, and numerous other improvements to continue the growth of Barry. With the 1991 opening of West Central Illinois' first and only interstate highway, the Central Illinois Expressway, I-72 along Barry's north edge, economic growth and changes are once again flourishing.

Come watch us grow.