I admit, checking out the Starline Factory was long overdue. That was in part due to the distance from the east side of Crystal Lake to Harvard. Ok, in the great scheme of things, especially for those who have lived or ventured to more of the near-Chicago burbs, not really a big deal. And, in my defense, I actually only first learned about the Starline Factory and their 4th Friday art shows a couple of years ago.
When I lived in Madison, Wisconsin, I absolutely loved their twice-a-year gallery nights. We’ve made it up once or twice since then (before we knew about Starline!), but that really is a haul, especially if you don’t overnight it.
And of course, we have been huge fans of 4th Fridays Art and the former 1st Fridays Art at The Dole as well as, the sadly former, Old Courthouse Art nights in Woodstock.
So last month we finally made the trek up there…and no, it wasn’t so far. And we were really surprised at what we found.
Address: 300 West Front St, Harvard, IL 60033
One visit alone to a gallery night isn’t enough to make any great assessments. Quality, quantity, or really just having “what you like” at gallery nights tends to fluctuate greatly. But that’s also part of the fun, never really knowing what you’re going to find. But I can say that I was surprised at how many people were in attendance.
All that aside, the location was quite fascinating. Essentially an old farm equipment factory going back to the late 1800’s that later lay in disrepair that was finally renovated and reborn into what it has become. McHenry County Living has a great write-up on its history and evolution in “A ‘Star’ is Reborn” that I highly recommend.
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Today it truly is a multi-functional destination, and art is only one part of the equation. The 4th Friday’s events are a juried art show and the last one for 2022 will be held on October 28th. But there are also resident artist studios, the Overland Gallery, and featured gallery space year-round. Then there is the Excursion Market, which is a 20,000-square-foot shop of additional art, home decor, and gifts.
The Starline also houses the Stanchion Pub, which we just barely got into without reservations. They had a limited menu and it appeared to be limited seating overall, but I believe this might be the result of transitioning back to normal from COVID.
But it’s also an event space, or spaces to be more accurate. Throughout the Starline Factory, which is so massive they actually provided a map, there are various rooms and spaces that can host weddings and other events. More than just “rooms,” each space has its own separate bar setup and there is even an onsite chapel.
If you haven’t made the trek to Starline yet, then I highly encourage it. As we found out, it’s a lot to take in with one visit, so we’ll be making another trip sometime to check out the Excursion Market and, if nothing else, just take in the interesting space of the Starline Factory itself.