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McHenry County Historical Society

About Us > Society Pages:

The Society Overview

Graphical overview of the Society

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The McHenry County Historical Society & Museum endeavors to be a hub for collection, preservation and educational outreach reflecting McHenry County’s history.

Established in 1963, our members, staff and volunteers have a 60-year track record (60 YEARS!) rich in preservation, education, and entertainment contributions to McHenry County. We create learning experiences and events. We focus on local culture, organizational and family history. We collect and care for notable artifacts. We participate in the activities of like-minded organizations, throughout McHenry County.

Your membership in the McHenry County Historical Society is always welcomed and appreciated! In addition to the knowledge that you are joining collective efforts to shape our county's future without forgetting its past, membership benefits include the following: Free admission to the Museum. Up to three complimentary research requests (copying and image fees still apply). Subscriptions to the monthly newsletter and The Tracer, a quarterly magazine. Reduced rates for special programming throughout the year.

The McHenry County Historical Society & Museum Board of Directors is responsible for fulfilling the organization's mission. Directors provide governance, leadership, and vision, ensure the organization's vitality and growth, represent the museum to the community, and accept the organization's ultimate legal authority.

Join our board, and help us make history!

The McHenry County Historical Society & Museum extends a warm welcome to individuals of all ages and abilities.

At the Museum Pages:

Museum Overview

Graphical overview of Museum Buildings, Exhibits and Videos

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Planning Your Visit

Hours, Address, Map and other attractions in Union IL

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Adopt A Book

Help MCHS preserve its collection by adopting an endangered book

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Adopt An Artwork

Help MCHS preserve its collection by adopting an endangered donation

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Adopt An Artifact

Help MCHS preserve its collection by adopting an endangered artifact

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Museum Store

When you visit the Museum, don't forget to visit our Gift Store!

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Speakers Bureau

Presentations, Lectures Historical impressions/Impersonations

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Education at the Museum

Learn more about our available educational programs!

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Acquisition Policy

Thank you for considering a donation to the McHenry County Historical Society.

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Museum Exhibits - Sorted by A - Z:

Museum Hours

Living at the turn of the century in Marengo

Video shows the process of moving an 1870's Italianate Bay window from a house in Richmond owned by MCCD, to Union IL.

Learn more about the Gannon Cabin, built in 1843 and currently a permanent exhibit at the McHenry County Historical Museum.

Ongoing Series of Postcards selected by Kira Stell, and cross posted on our Facebook pages.

Our Don Peasley Exhibit Opened on May 4th 2014, featuring photographs taken by photo journalist Don Peasley.

Perkins Town Hall is located at 3600 Franklinville Road in Woodstock, IL


Rare limestone construction

Riley Methodist Church, built in 1898, is ideal for a wedding, baptism or any religious event.

1895 West Harmony School

Museum Quiz Answers

About Us > Research Library:

Research Library Overview

Graphical View of All Available Research Online

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Research Library Materials:

Our Research Center is by appointment only after completing a research request. Once a request is completed, we will begin research and contact you about what we've found and then schedule an appointment if needed. Research Request fees are waived for MCHS Members, but copying and image fees still apply. There is a $30 research request fee for use by non-members. 

Reference Materials available in the MCHS Research Library - I. Countywide Resources

Reference Materials available in the MCHS Research Library - Historical Special Editions of Local Newspapers

Reference Materials available in the MCHS Research Library - Local Histories

By comparing data from an 1872 Atlas, and modern maps, we can see how mcHenry County has developed over the past 138 years.

court cases

On this Day in McHenry County History

The small independent drug store has disappeared along with the remaining “independents.”

Richmond once could boast the location of “Mc Henry County’s largest drug store.”

Life Before Women’s Suffrage

Remember onion plasters, mustard plasters, oh how they burned our chests! But they would cure a chest cold, wouldn’t they?

Chart of Birthplaces of McHenry County Residents according to the 1850 Census.

Chart of McHenry County Occupations listed in the 1850 and 1870 Census

Chart of Cultural Sites Listed in the 1872 McHenry County Atlas

Cultural Sites Listed in the 1892 McHenry County Atlas

Chart of Cultural Sites Listed in the 1908 McHenry County Atlas

Digital Scrapbook Collection

“Forgotten McHenry County” documents remnants of our past, be it ghost ads on buildings, addresses on transoms, post offices no longer in existence, slaughterhouses, distilleries, outside cellar doors and even corncribs & outhouses.

“Forgotten McHenry County” documents remnants of our past, be it ghost ads on buildings, addresses on transoms, post offices no longer in existence, slaughterhouses, distilleries, outside cellar doors and even corncribs & outhouses.

“Forgotten McHenry County” documents remnants of our past, featuring Lustron Homes- All Metal Pre-Fabricated Homes, Post WW2

“Forgotten McHenry County” documents remnants of our past, be it ghost ads on buildings, addresses on transoms, post offices no longer in existence, slaughterhouses, distilleries, outside cellar doors and even corncribs & outhouses.

“Forgotten McHenry County” documents remnants of our past, be it ghost ads on buildings, addresses on transoms, post offices no longer in existence, slaughterhouses, distilleries, outside cellar doors and even corncribs & outhouses.

“Forgotten McHenry County” documents remnants of our past, be it ghost ads on buildings, addresses on transoms, post offices no longer in existence, slaughterhouses, distilleries, outside cellar doors and even corncribs & outhouses.

“Forgotten McHenry County” documents remnants of our past, be it ghost ads on buildings, addresses on transoms, post offices no longer in existence, slaughterhouses, distilleries, outside cellar doors and even corncribs & outhouses.

“Forgotten McHenry County” documents remnants of our past, be it ghost ads on buildings, addresses on transoms, post offices no longer in existence, slaughterhouses, distilleries, outside cellar doors and even corncribs & outhouses.

“Forgotten McHenry County” documents remnants of our past, be it ghost ads on buildings, addresses on transoms, post offices no longer in existence, slaughterhouses, distilleries, outside cellar doors and even corncribs & outhouses.

Historic Links of interest n McHenry County

How to Confirm the Age of Your Historic Home

Dates of Original Land Purchases in McHenry County 1839-1850 (Chart)

Many of the small independent jewelry stores in McHenry County have disappeared along with the independent clothing boutiques and drug stores. Those that remain conduct business in a much more complex environment than in the 1950s.

McHenry County in the Twenties was still dominated by the specialty store. Most any item that a family needed could be had by going downtown.

Those first automobile tourists traveled with everything, including the kitchen sink. Their car was a home-away-from home because these were the days before motels.

McHenry County Youngsters have always found a way to keep busy when not in school or doing homework. What did kids do before video games became so popular?

Reference Materials available in the MCHS Research Library -  McHenry County Conservation District

To obtain a photocopy of an obituary, please: Send the name and date of the obituaries you want along with a self-addressed, stamped envelope to McHenry County Historical Society, P.O. Box 434, Union, IL 60180.

Newspapers, local history books and documents.

McHenry County

Sears sold these “Modern Home” kits from 1908-1940.

McHenry County Wartime Data from 1846 - 2003


Preservation Overview

Graphical View of All Available Preservation Online

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Heritage Farms

View working barns in the Lake County and McHenry area

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Thank you for your interest in the McHenry County Historical Society's Barn Registration Program.  Unfortunate as it is, this program may become the only record of barns that once predominated

Common sense approach – always start with the least invasive treatment but if you aren’t sure what to do, don’t do anything. Instead, contact the McHenry County Historical Society.

Nothing is more beautiful than seeing the sunset behind a McHenry County barn.

This was a prevalent Northern Illinois style barn from time of settlement in 1830's through probably the 1860's while wheat was grown and before dairying took over in 1870's.

Plaquing an historic site or structure is an excellent means of calling attention to the heritage of McHenry County.

Preserve the Past by revealing your place in History.

News and Event Pages:

News & Event Overview

Graphical overview of News and Current Events

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Event Calendar

Check out our Museum Fundraisers and local history events!

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History-packed quarterly magazine – 16 pages of news, articles, interviews

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News: Sorted by Most Recent:

DEADLINE is April  5, 2024

Support local history with your unwanted ephemera

Raices Latinas hosts first farm tour June 8, 2023

Hot time in the old town June 2

History an economic driver

Tickets are on sale NOW through November 9, 2023

Seidner joins MCHS team

Saturday, May 13, 11 AM to 1 PM

Museum Opening Party & Exhibit Reveal

Village-owned bridge failing

Volunteers recognized April 26

Marengo Athletics one of earliest county clubs

Depot restaurant reaches end of line

New Raices Latinas group builds bridges

6:30 p.m. April 10

East Palestine, Ohio, derailment shows lessons from past crashes not being learned fast enough

Public access to digitized records

Long-time dairy farmer leaves legacy

Newest quilt has gals in stitches

Open House provides thread to past

Hurry in for the holidays

Iconic theaters going dark

Story behind Christmas lighting illuminating

County has tie to Revolutionary War

Mysteries linger

Rare barn under threat

Weather cooperates for Oct. 2 event

Library celebrates 40 years of connecting people to their past

Congratulations to Judy Link!

Illinois Arts Council helps fund first-of-its-kind event

2 p.m. Aug. 20

Big crowd shows up at Pistakee Bay

July 10 marked return to the Good Ol' Days

Stop war, make pie

Antique cars add polish to 35th annual fair

Vintage base ball visits Fox River Grove

Outdoor event gets 5 stars

New art show part of opening

Remembering those who served

Flags for freedom

7 p.m. April 11

Dependable Wi-Fi remains elusive

3 p.m. April 25 at the museum

Past can predict future, if we learn from it

Development pressure underscores need for a plan

Cary’s effort to save the former senior center example of historical buildings getting another life

History catalyst for economic development

Still time to view Smithsonian exhibit

Good weather, large crowds make return of Autumn Drive memorable

Society marks 44th annual Cider Fest under blue skies

Around the Clock captures Apple of My Eye Award for top commercial pie

County played key role in preserving Union

Painful memories, pleasant present

Art contest deadline extended

Legacy of Camp Lakota carries on

Pie contest a slice a heaven

History infuses economy

Car owners brave overcast skies, light up Main Street

Disclose plans ... please

Sponsor Restoration

Buy a sandwich, save a building

Richmond residents propose nonprofit

Take a walk on the historical side

Holst underscores care of clothes

Voting a sacred trust

Listen to the April 5 recording

Operational grant helps MCHS

Civic participation needs protections

Sampler Lecture picture perfect

February chill record setting

35th Annual Sampler Lecture Series goes vitural

CL doctor, station owner nabs crooks

County leader in organic ice control

Algonquin's Diane Perrone this year's winner!

See MCHS artifacts put to use

5-part series explores food history

MCCD staff recommend maintaining just six of 27 historic structures it owns

Sweetened offers due Dec. 22

1930s' radio show still celebrated

MCHS strikes gold

TB remains a problem

Coal speculators flamed out

Coventry on the cusp

Historical Society hosts Veterans Day thank you

Female vote has come full circle

Legacy gift

Volunteers make garden bloom

Action needed to save structure

Clear skies, enthusiastic visitors combine for great day

Sept. 19 attendees learn about bees

COVID could signal return of rationing

Picture your past, adopt some art

Color your world purple and gold Wednesday

Questers "Adopt An Artifact"

As in the Civil War, Lincoln resilient

McHenry East High School graduate earns scholarship

Union School marks sesquicentennial

The "new normal" actually is old

Get your corn dogs, funnel cakes

CONGRATS Paula Goepfert of Woodstock!!


Historic observatory could reopen

Operational relief grant approved

History resources available at a social distance

Dairy farming under threat

Masking up to stay healthy

Chronicle history while you have time

Free pioneer crafts for kids

Manufacturerers have retooled production before

/research-libraryWarning signs for pandemic were there

Veterans program full of stories

Pandemic nothing new

NAAC leaving Woodstock

19th Amendment 72 years in the making

Old courthouse, turned bar, on tap to be repurposed

Local  "roadshow" a hit among collectors

Hospital logistics, environment can make you sick

Crystal Lake City Council approves church plan

Council to consider Jan. 7

Huntley wants to expand, reimage its downtown

Frosty not melting away

Mary & Doug Noe named Volunteers of the Year

Quilt "forest" 2019

Last 1st Friday on Dec. 6

Dean Foods files for bankruptcy

Frosty is "the man"

Hand dyeing fabric key to creativity

Historical buildings can be made functional

Ford School added to county landmark list

Historic Sites Committee landmarks chapel site

E-cigarettes latest in long line of deadly "remedies"

Record crowds visit fall fest

Ladies Circle dissolves, two historic sites preserved

Enthusiastic crowd listens to tales of woe

All Seasons edges stiff competition to win Apple of My Eye

Another Cider Fest in the books

Harvard lodge building at crossroads

Would be "Mrs. President" was a diehard suffragette

History lovers visit Island Lake on Sept. 18

MCHS plaques 90th structure

6:30 p.m. Sept. 9

Chapel open to all in need

Popular tour reprised next year

Vintage carousel reborn in Volo

Annual meeting held Aug. 19

Bookstores find the  goirng tough

Historic school, would-be museum torn down

Rare passenger bus latest project

Ratway edges tough field

Global warming a new reality

Technology help people visualize history

Classic vehicles play it cool on hot day

Heritage Fair outlasts heat

Civil War Days canceled

Homemade candy shop marks 100th birthday

June 15 program marks 75 years since Normandy invasion

Keeping the Peace Down on the Farm

Capital bill could help fund rail expansion

McHenry residents try to save 1st courthouse

Lakewood saves its silo

Take a video tour

April 25 at the museum

County real estate market mixed

Peek into the American Indian Way of Life

6 to 9 p.m. Friday, May 3

In-school programs for first- through fifth-graders

Renewed recycling key to staving off landfill threat


Depot resolution adopted

Audubon shares stories with county

Joint Council Tour March 20

Fabric donor receives block

Unusal bike developed in Huntley

Full house hears about famed White City

Railing for rail

Enthusiastic crowd participates

Money to fund school outreach

Curtiss legacy continuing

Tour history

Five candidates approved

Railing for mass transit

2020 quilt a 1930s bow-tie pattern

Bell ringers ring up donations


Every wall needs a gate

Here here, pass the beer

Madrigal Performance

Folks still are talking about the snowfall of 1936


Hebron Library


Hebron Library Fundraiser Nov. 17, 2018

Quilt program draws enthusastic crowd


Bake-off on point for taste

Halloween, costumes remain popular

Historic House recognized on Sept. 29

Representatives from the McHenry County Historical Society and the McHenry County Historic Preservation Commission visited the Boone County Museum of History:

Hardware family exiting the business

Newspapers and the communal history they chronicle are disappearing – not only current mastheads but the many publications that have been relegated to memory.

History isn't always pretty

Logic Puzzle Museum a fun diversion

Little Schoolhouse on the Prairie

Cities drawn into redevelopment

Quilt winner selected

Dairy Dilemma

We scream for ice cream

Thanks to everyone who participated in this year's Heritage Fair Car Show. It was the largest yet!

A slice above

Bridging generations

Shall We Give A Dam or Not?

This "dish" meant touching home

This church had many foundations

Pistakee Panache

The McHenry County Historical Society marked its 55th museum year with an opening soiree Friday, May 4, at the museum.

May 20

 Riverside was go-to destination

Historic Ag Day

Orchard Beach Hotel

Corn perfect fit for prairie

Could cold beer be sold here?

Donny Discovered

Huntley seeks proposals

Admiring Adelia

New approach to repurposing old

Large crowd marks state bicentennial, transportation hubs

Antiques Great Show

Korean conundrum

Ignore at your peril

Gimme some "Gitche Gumee"

Moose on the loose

Detailed Plan

This year's Rock Around the Quilted Tree theme is "Blue Christmas. Twenty-one quilts were entered in this year's seasonal show.

Switzer, Fiske leave a legacy in their wake

F.E. Rawson general store is seen in Greenwood

Crystal Lake McDonald's in 1961

Climb aboard Christmas Tree Ship on Nov. 19

"Serial Quilter" comes clean

Old jail landmarked

Historic Halloween 2016

Eugene V. Debs speaks to a crowd

Bull Valley has every right to celebrate its 40th birthday

40th event

Teaching teachers

"A two-hour tour ..."

Landmark status to the William H. Coventry House and Barn

Let's play two

Kurt Pearson, McHenry resident and Crystal Lake native, began researching Swedenberg about 5 years ago....

Everyone loves history, right?

Big Schook Day

Fox River watershed


History Repeats

68% shopped online...

Woodstock High School graduate earns scholarship

Jean Turner, Huntley

Heritage Fair Hootenanny

Banking on Clams

Sears Holding Corp.

Hub-bub over the wording

Must have been the shirts

Gen. John L. “Black Jack” Pershing

Alden depot dismantled

Nancy Roozée named Woman of Distinction

3 p.m. Monday, May 15

Wine tasting, taste for history key


Ernest Freeberg talks about Eugene V. Debs

6 to 9 p.m. Friday

Pistakee Bay takes center stage

Historic Huntley High School demolished

WWI and Peaceful Protest

There are so many barns across McHenry County

Call to Action!

Historic house razed

Textile internship funded

 Lehmann mansion in Lake Villa

Dyer addresses full house

"Forever Poppies"

Many attended March 20 lecture

Reviving Newspapers

Record Turnout!

Performers called county home

On the radio

A Volunteer Valentine

The Golden Tornadoes of 1920

Built between 1861and 1862

MLK lessons

Stitch in Time


Heaven City

First quilt show in the books

Arlen Bird, Union, earned top honors as show champion for her "American Glory" quilt, a reproduction of a quilt first stitched in the early 1800s.

Seeking good coffee

Historial Society helps Salvation Army

Helping Others

Dyzart named "Volunteer of the Year"

Display continues through December


Quilt Presentation

Historians among honorees

Presidential straw poll a dead heat

Traditions continue

Oct. 12 event draws full house


On the circuit

So if you’re trying to bring religion to a bunch of pioneers scattered across hell’s half acre, what do you do? You bring the shepherd to the flock.

Hops could replace roses as county's signature crop

Heritage Quilters strut stuff

Poster art program draws interest

Quick view of the 2016 Heritage Fair Car Show.

It was a "corker"

You the "Poké" Man!

Historical Society at the county fair

Centennial celebrations

After 145 years, Haeger Potteries closed its East Dundee factory June 30 in what company President Lexy Haeger Estes characterized as the company’s “most difficult” decision.

Preservation ordinances

Beer has a history all its own

A crowd thirsty for beer knowledge gathered at the museum July 24 to hear home brewer Dave Oberg pontificate about something he knows a lot about: Beer.

Romans in Romania

Sweet treat

See Photo Gallery for Event Highlights

A tale of two schoolhouses

Pringle pageant a rousing success!

Pringle pageant captures a century of progress, 1836-1936

Museum hosts annual members' meeting

History re-created

An energetic crowd turned out Thursday, June 16, to witness history: The release of Eugene V. Debs from the McHenry County Jail in Woodstock on Nov. 22, 1895.

Thank you McHenry County!

Eugene V. Debs

Milk Center of the World

Stengele, Mack and Viger Honored

Railroads developed McHenry County

History protected

Lakewood Farms placed on list

History celebration starts April 29

For historical events marking Look at Local History Month click HERE

Book her, Dano!

Sampler Lecture

Nearly 100 people attended the fourth and final Sampler Series lecture on Monday, April 18, at the McHenry County Historical Society Museum.

Super Supper

Music part of farm life

March 30

County records storage shown

MCCF invests in the community

Members get sneak peek

History minded quilters earn award

Radio program


Published Feb. 1, 2016 in the Northwest Herald

Valentines Day


Appraisals fill popular need

Future TV Special

Dec. 9 Lunch

Raffle Quilts

These trees sparkle

Radio history

The McHenry County Board is accepting applications from individuals interested in appointment to the McHENRY COUNTY HISTORIC PRESERVATION COMMISSION.  One position is available for a

Winning Mood

Veterans honored with quilts

Tickling the ivories

Tabletop history

Window to the past

Ghost stories with Jim May

Museum serves slice of history, apple treats on Oct. 4

Mail Order Phenomenon

McHenry County Joint Council of HIstoric Groups fall meeting

C & NW Historical Society

Special tour of Queen Anne masterpiece

The Peterson farmstead is located at 2903 Vermont Road.

Historic farmstead to be plaqued

Author Dave Lester speaks.

Grand champion Jim Ratway won the 2015 Pie Bake Off

Henry Kenyon shares a cold beverage in our brewing exhibit.

Kyla Singleton, History student and Crystal Lake resident.

Midnight Carboys

Annual favorite: the Perkins Players performers, circa 2015.

Civil War base ball game ends in tie.

From Museum Opener May 1st

Division medal winners Bob and Chris Frenz

Coventry farmstead protected

Countywide tour of history related events

A large crowd was on hand Tuesday night, April 14, for the third of four Sampler Series programs at the McHenry County Historical Society Museum.

Palm Sunday in 1965

About 85 members viewed the private collections

Part of the 2015 Sampler Series

Presented Grants on March 25th

Focuses on the Standard School Program in Illinois

A 1946 Chevy pickup captured Best of Show honors.

A Musical History of McHenry County." presented by Speaker Mary Ellen Heelan, of Cary.

Highlights from February 28th event

Archival storage sites maintained by the C & NW Historical Society

Quilters begin the 2016 raffle quilt benefiting the McHenry County Historical Society

McHenry County was WWII home of German POWs, Japanese-Americans. At a time when some in this country feel a sense of antipathy toward Arab-Americans living among us, it is worth remembering that during World War II a number of Japanese-Americans – as well as German prisoners of war – were working and living in McHenry County.

Rankin/Bass Productions historian and archivist Rick Goldschmidt

Estate Planning can benefit future generations, leave a lasting legacy.

The Huntley High School Treble Choir entertains volunteers

For a donation to the Historical Society, take a photograph of you and/or yours standing next to or sitting on this historic ride!


Tour of the Old Courthouse on the Woodstock Square

Don Purn (left) and Bob Frenz educated students on the Civil War

Quilt Drawing Followed Debra Henniger Presentation

Historic Halloween is presented every October

Grand champion honors for Mary Argall's Candy Apple pie

Volunteers from Grace Lutheran Evangelical Church in Woodstock

Huntley Area Chamber of Commerce

MCHS presented the historical plaque on Sunday, June 29

Register Now for our 2014 Summer Sunday Series

Return to the Classroom

Includes Quilted Barn Locations in McHenry County!

May 31 bus tour of historic, one-room schools in McHenry County

MCHS plaqued the 113-year-old George Burger house May 2014

Overview of the 2014 Sampler Series, 4 great presentations.

Chris Frenz was among those who volunteered to teach students at the 2014 Ag Day, April 15-17, at the McHenry County Fairgrounds in Woodstock.

Camp Algonquin is on the 10 most Endangered Historic Places

Have an original piece of art showing portraying a historic structure, landscape or vista? Contact the Historical Society to find out how we help each other – and further historic preservation.

MCHS Committee plaqued the El Tovar Theatre, Feb. 8, 2014

MCHS President Bob Frenz accepts certificate from Rich Carter

DECEMBER 2013- The unassuming gravestone with the surname “Sayer,” found in McHenry’s St.

The city of Woodstock has begun the process for the acquisition, restoration, preservation and reuse of the historic old McHenry County Courthouse built in 1857.

More than 200 people celebrated golden anniversary of the McHenry County Historical Society

In late summer, while the cicadas drone, come and see the annual Afternoon Sing-along at the 1895 Riley Church, 9316 Riley Road, Marengo

Cottonwood sculpture gets new life.

About 66 yrs ago, the Ford School, c.1886, was about to be torn down...

Part of our past is taking root in Lake in the Hills.

If you have completed a renovation project, large or small, on your older home in the last two years that is in keeping with the historic character of the building, submit a nomination to the McHen

157-year-old structure

MAY 2013 - John Strohm began his presentation with panache.

MCHS presented a plaque at the Josephine and William Lorimer Jr. House May 2013

Alden Methodist Church

Alden railroad station

FEBRUARY 2013 - Examples of old mills repurposed interesting ways are not hard to find: A sawmill turned into a restaurant in downstate Urbana, an 1857 feed mill in Mazomanie, Wis., converted into

FEBRUARY 2013 - The debate raging in Congress over the federal deficit and its possible effect on the social safety net isn’t all that different than what occurred a century ago.

The Mineola was built in 1884

On November 30, 2010 the Union Fire Dept. had the 1867 limestone building so they could put in a septic field for their adjacent fireshouse.

When you support the McHenry County Historical Society, many benefits become yours.

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