The McHenry Market Place

During the 1960s, McHenry found itself expanding. A variety of new residential areas were appearing, as well as businesses. The business expansion was mainly spread toward the west along Route 120. With the draining of Mill Pond in the late 1920s, expansion seemed to lend in that direction. By 1966, city leaders were preparing to set up a new shopping center that would be known as the McHenry Market Place. This would be McHenry’s largest stretch of a shopping area and being set apart from the main part of town would look all the more impressive.

Architect’s drawing of the future McHenry Market Place from 5 May 1966 Plaindealer.

The contractors for the project, T. H. Brophy & Co., were from Northfield and constructed other shopping centers in the area. The project started early in 1966, was hoped to be completed for a November opening. The Market Place would be over 6 1/2 acres in size and was part of what was known as the Steffens property, which had been annexed by the city for commercial use. By May it would have of 54,000 square feet leased with an additional 12,000 square feet ready for additional businesses. Around the same time, the city annexed an additional 32 acres to the north of the Market Place that would be used as an industrial park. 

Taken from ad in 6 Feb 1969, McHenry Plaindealer. Note that the Piggly Wiggly had already become Eagle Foods. Also, the Market Place sign on the left, which was there for many years.

 By May 1966, the project was up and running. It would have started sooner, but due to a strike by the International Operating Engineers, construction started later that the Brophy company would have liked. The goal was an October 27th opening for the stores. On June 8, the official groundbreaking ceremony took place. Taking part was the various city officials, directors from the T.H. Brophy, architect David Ladchoff, and heads of the stores moving into the new Market Place. Construction went smoothly, including the burning of the old Thomas Wilson home to clear out space.

Original ad for leasing space at the Market Place appearing in 14 Jul 1966.

Most of the businesses that would be in the Market Place would be staples in the city for many years. One of the most notable was Hornsby’s, which came to McHenry in 1963 in the strip mall that now is home to Verlo Mattress and the Sparrow’s Nest. Initially, the store started in Morris, IL, and was one of the first modern stores offering a bit of everything. When the idea of the Market Place came about Hornsby’s moved west on Rte. 120. Also, there initially was Mays Drug and the Piggly Wiggly, a grocery store. Both were subsidiary of Eagle Foods. Within a few years, the Piggly Wiggly switched its name to Eagle Foods and would be in the Market Place until 2003. Mays Drug and Hornsby’s were at the Market Place until the mid-1980s. Also, there in 1966, were Goodyear Tire & Rubber and Hughes Equipment, a coin-operated laundromat. While the names have changed, both establishments are still in their respected businesses today. Lastly, there was a beauty shop, Commercial Credit, and a barbershop.

  • “Market Place Shows Progress” The McHenry Plaindealer. 15 Sep 1966, 1. Web. 6 Jul 2020.
  • “Ribbon Cutting Ceremony” The McHenry Plaindealer. 17 Nov 1966, 1. Web. 6 Jul 2020.
  • “Excavate For Shopping Center” The McHenry Plaindealer. 9 Jun 1966, 1. Web. 6 Jul 2020.
  • “Flames Rise High” The McHenry Plaindealer. 18 Aug 1966, 8. Web. 6 Jul 2020.
  • “New McHenry Businesses Open” The McHenry Plaindealer. 17 Nov 1966, 10. Web. 6 Jul 2020.
  • “The McHenry Marketplace” The McHenry Plaindealer. 5 May 1966, 1. Web. 6 Jul 2020.