McHenry’s 2nd City Hall

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Postcard of McHenry’s City Hall from ca. 1915.

During the early 1900s, McHenry was a bustling tourist town that attracted many people from the city and other local areas as a vacation spot. By 1911, it was becoming apparent to some citizens in the village of McHenry that the town hall no longer met the needs of its people. If the town was to grow it would need a more attractive and functional city hall. Other neighboring towns, such as Wauconda and Richmond, had recently built new town halls and some McHenry citizens felt McHenry needed to follow suit.

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Sanborn Map showing City Hall in 1898 next door to the new Landmark School.

The original city hall building had been a cheese factory from 1875 up until its renovation in 1885 as the village hall. It is interesting to note that even though McHenry was settled in 1834, it didn’t incorporate until 1872 and thus didn’t need a hall until then. During the spring and summer of 1911, the town government made plans to construct a building for about $9,000. Blueprints were drawn up with the new building consisting of a brick two-story structure. The new building would be put on a ballot and if passed, the town board would be able to take the money needed for construction out of the village’s treasury. Taxes wouldn’t need to be raised if the town would maintain its cash flow. However, on August 11, 1911, the town voted against constructing the new building by a decisive margin of 125-70.

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Sanborn Map showing City Hall and the Pump Station.

The contention stayed dormant for four years, until 1915, when the matter of a new building came to the forefront because of the city hall’s deterioration. The city sold the old village building, which was then razed in June 1915. The city fathers then found a nice solution for the new city hall. Instead of placing the construction of a new building on another ballot, the village compromised. The town’s old ice house & pump station were solidly built and the owner was willing to sell.  With some remodeling, the city council felt the ice house would make a fine village hall. Conveniently, it was located right next door to the old city hall. The city had a new terracotta front installed, a new sidewalk and new office furniture placed in the old ice house. The pump station, which would remain in use as the city’s water reservoir, was right next to the renovated building.  The modernized city hall was then ready for public use in September 1915. The updated city hall would serve admirably for fifty years until its replacement was constructed on Green Street in the 1970’s.

 

Sources:

“Population of McHenry” McHenry Plaindealer 27 Apr. 1911: 1. Newspapers.com. Web. 15 Sep 2016.
“Need New City Hall” McHenry Plaindealer 27 Apr. 1911: 1. Newspapers.com. Web. 15 Sep 2016.
“Vote On City Hall” McHenry Plaindealer 20 Jul. 1911: 1. Newspapers.com. Web. 15 Sep 2016.
“No New City Hall” McHenry Plaindealer 17 Aug. 1911: 1. Newspapers.com. Web. 15 Sep 2016.
“Village Hall and Gym” McHenry Plaindealer 12 Feb. 1914: 1. Newspapers.com. Web. 15 Sep 2016.
“Sealed Bids for Old City Hall” McHenry Plaindealer 6 May 1915: 1. Newspapers.com. Web. 15 Sep 2016.
“Old Village Hall Sold” McHenry Plaindealer 20 May 1915: 1. Newspapers.com. Web. 15 Sep 2016.
“Village Hall Talk” McHenry Plaindealer 20 May 1915: 1. Newspapers.com. Web. 15 Sep 2016.
“To Remodel Power House” McHenry Plaindealer 10 Jun. 1915: 1. Newspapers.com. Web. 15 Sep 2016.
“Razing Old Hall” McHenry Plaindealer 17 Jun. 1915: 1. Newspapers.com. Web. 15 Sep 2016.
“Work On City Hall Front” McHenry Plaindealer 29 Jul. 1915: 8. Newspapers.com. Web. 15 Sep 2016.
“Laying Brick” McHenry Plaindealer 26 Aug. 1915: 1. Newspapers.com. Web. 15 Sep 2016.
“Cement Walk” McHenry Plaindealer 14 Oct. 1915: 1. Newspapers.com. Web. 15 Sep 2016.
“Neat Municipal Building” McHenry Plaindealer 28 Oct. 1915: 1. Newspapers.com. Web. 15 Sep 2016.
“City Hall Front Finished” McHenry Plaindealer 9 Sep. 1915: 1. Newspapers.com. Web. 15 Sep 2016.
“Special Edition – Next Saturday” McHenry Plaindealer 10 Aug. 1911: 1. Newspapers.com. Web. 15 Sep 2016.
“McHenry, Illinois” Sanborn Map. Jan. 1922: http://sanborn.umi.com. Web. 15 Sep 2016.
“McHenry, Illinois” Sanborn Map. Jul. 1898/: http://sanborn.umi.com. Web. 15 Sep 2016.