Historic Site Plaquing

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Thank you for inquiring about the process of plaquing a historic site or structure located in McHenry County. We hope the required documentation (click above for pdf to submit) will provide a lasting record of the property, site, and structure. For a brochure addressing frequently asked questions, click HERE.

Plaquing a historic site or structure is an excellent means of calling attention to the heritage of McHenry County. It is not a legal proceeding and thus does not interfere with the buying and selling the property. However, once a home receives a plaque, the plaque will remain with and on the structure or site if the house is sold.

• Plaquing by the McHenry County Historical Society does not make the site eligible for reductions in property taxes. However, state and federal governments offer historic preservation tax incentives.

• Plaquing also does not require you to open the site or structure to the public.

• Plaquing does not prohibit the owner from altering the structure or site (i.e., remodeling or additions).

However, if the alterations detract from the architectural or historic integrity of the structure or site, and upon review, the Historic Sites Committee determines that the structure or site no longer meets the Minimum Standard for plaquing, you will forfeit your privilege of displaying the plaque on the structure or site.

See  List of all sites that have received plaques from the McHenry County Historical Society.

Plaquing criteria for McHenry County Structures or Sites:

 Architectural Significance of a Building 20 points
 Maintenance of a Building, Outbuildings or Site 20 points
 Historical Significance of a Building or Site 20 points
 Conservation of Original Architectural Details, Decorative elements, and Character of a Building 20 points
 Age of a Building or Site 20 points


1. Architectural significance: The building must represent a particular architectural style, construction technique, and design.

2. Maintenance of a building or outbuildings: The overall or general condition of a building or site. Is the building kept painted, tuck-pointed, and in good repair? (Building maintenance, however, should not detract from the structure's original appearance and character).

3. Historical significance of a building or site: The historical association of a building or site to local, state, and national history, county development, settlement patterns, and associations with county residents.

4. Conservation of architectural elements: The preservation of original, distinctive details and characteristics that define the aesthetic and architectural integrity of a building.

5. Age of a building or site: The date the structure was built and the date of any subsequent additions or remodeling. A site must be at least 50 to meet the National Register of Historic Places minimum age requirement.
Rev. 7/95

How to Confirm the Age of Your Home

At the time of purchase, ask the sellers for any information they may have about the house: Property abstracts, old deeds, names of previous owners, pictures, old letters, or papers with information about the house or any of its owners. Talk to neighbors and long-term residents in the area.

Get a legal description of the property. It will be contained in the title information. This "legal" will be used in many avenues of research.

The title company that issued the title insurance probably ran a title search on the property. A "chain of title" is necessary for house history research. It may be costly. Some local title insurance companies allow manual research in their title books free of charge.

The Recorder of Deeds office at the county courthouse has records open to the public. Clerks there will advise on how to use the Grantor-Grantee indices. Know the Property Identification Number and have the legal description when you go there. The Grantor books indicate the seller, and the Grantee books indicate the buyer of the property. Date of sale, quit claim deeds (QC), warranty deeds (WC), "book and page" information, and brief legal description and other legal documents may be contained on microfiche in this office.

The County Treasurer's office at the courthouse has all real estate and personal property tax records on microfilm or fiche by date, township, and section number. Look for a significant increase in the tax amount, indicating a rise in value (a structure added), in the "tax due" column.

The Township Assessor's office may have old records (from the late 1800s) that contain construction dates, crude floor plans, builders' names, building materials, etc. However, these excellent sources of information may be in storage, as the offices are mostly computerized, Ask questions, and give clerks time (weeks) to find the files.

City Records

Sanborn Fire Maps, 1880s through at least 1930
(found at the Historical Society, McHenry Public Library, or City/Village Halls)

Building Permits - begin in the late 1950s

Biographical information on early homeowners and business owners is available in the Research Library at the Historical Society.

Pictures, early postcards, abstracts, and business records may be found at the Historical Society or McHenry Public Library's Genealogical Room.


Chicago Historical Society, 312/542-4600.
Their library contains catalogs of companies that put out house plans like Sears, Wards, and Budget. The library also includes information on Chicago architects.

Illinois State Historic Preservation Agency, Division of Preservation Services, Old State Capitol, Springfield, IL 62701, 217/785-4512.
Help with National Registers, grants, architects, and local government services.

McHenry County Historical Society Research Library, 815/923-2267
6422 Main Street, P.O. Box 434, Union, IL 60180
By pre-arranged appointment only
There is a user fee, but it is free to members. Copy and image fees apply.

Northern Illinois University, 815/753-1779
For the Illinois Regional Archives Depository. Microfilmed records from the county are deposited here. Call and ask what local information is available.

Newspapers on Microfilm

McHenry Plain Dealer found at McHenry Public Library

Nunda Advertiser and The Herald found at Crystal Lake Public Library.

Woodstock Sentinel, found at the Woodstock Public Library

Marengo Republican found at the Marengo Public Library.

Harvard Herald, found at the Harvard Public Library.

These are essential sources of building information, often including detailed descriptions of styling and layout by builders and contractors.
Call local libraries regarding house history research materials available.

Old Telephone Books

Yellow Pages lists builders, contractors, and businesses from at least 50 years ago.
Please share any additional sources with us so we may direct others.

Begin Historical Plaquing Application

Upon receipt of the application, the committee will arrange a time to conduct a field investigation of the site.
Revised May 2023

This is a long application form, please click each Section Title open to view. If you would prefer to use a printable form with fillable fields, please download our Historic Plaque Application

House Styles

John A. Kennedy House
John A. Kennedy House, Woodstock, IL

Greek Revival Style
Built 1825-1865; Gable or hipped low pitched roof; Gabled returns; Door surround with sidelights and transom lights; Wide cornice lines; May have pediment in gable; Often has a full porch the width of the house

Seth Lewis House
Seth Lewis House, Marengo, IL

Gothic Revival Style
Built 1840-1880; Steeply pitched roof, usually with steep cross gables;  Gables commonly with decorated vergeboards; Windows extending into gables; Windows may be have a pointed arch; Windows usually have drip molding above; Often has full width porches

Charles Cotting House
Charles Cotting House, Richmond, IL

Italianate Style
Built 1840-1885; Low pitched hipped roof; Wide overhanging eaves supported by decorative brackets; Commonly has a cupola or tower; Tall narrow windows, often arched; Windows frequently have elaborate window crowns; Usually has double front doors

James Harvey Philp House
James Harvey Philp House, Algonquin, IL

Folk Victorian
Built 1870-1910; Basic house with simple folk house form; Symmetrical façade except gable front and wing; Spindlework porch detailing; Brackets under eaves

Francis Patrick House
Francis Patrick House, Marengo, IL

Queen Anne Style
Built 1880-1910; Steeply pitched roof of irregular shape, usually with dominant front facing gable; Overall shape of house is irregular and asymmetrical; Textured shingles to avoid smooth walled appearance; decorative sufaces; Partial or full asymmetrical porch, which may be wrap-around; Spindlework ornamentation; May have towers, bay windows

William and Dagmar Wascher House
Wm. & Dagmar Wascher Hse, Cary, IL

Built 1890-1940; Steeply pitched roof, usually side-gabled; Massive chimneys, commonly crowned by decorative chimney pots; Façade dominated by one or more prominent cross gables, usually steeply pitched; Decorative half-timbering; Tall, narrow windows, commonly in multiple groups and with multi-pane glazing; Often brick cladded

Andrew McAnsh House
Andrew McAnsh House, McHenry, IL

Neoclassical Style
Façade dominated by full-height porch with roof supported by classical columns; Columns typically have Ionic or Corinthian capitals; Facade has symmetrically balanced windows and center door

William D. Hall House
William D. Hall House, Harvard, IL

Prairie Style
Low pitched roof; Wide overhanging eaves; Details emphasize horizontal lines; Two stories with one story wings or porches; Often has massive, square porch supports