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Looking back at Downtown historic Algonquin IL
Dated: April 5 2021
- Algonquin was originally inhabited by the Pottowatomi Indians and French trappers.
- The first settler to arrive to the area was Samuel Gillilan and his family from Virginia in 1834. They built their cabin near what is now the Algonquin cemetery, on the north side of the village.
- Algonquin is located roughly 47 miles northwest of the Chicago Loop. It is known as the "Gem of the Fox River Valley."
- It was incorporated on February 25, 1890 in both Kane and McHenry Counties.
- John Peter was elected the first village president and W. Seyk, Dorr W. Thomas, Charles Kublank, Andrew Doig, William A. Nason and John Johnston were elected the first village trustees.
In 1855, the railroad arrived to Algonquin and new businesses appeared including a sawmill, gristmill and flour mill. The gravel mining industry also took off at the end of the 1890s. Around the same time, the tourists began flocking to the area. By 1900, nine passenger trains would stop in Algonquin daily to drop off tourists from Chicago.
It was completed in 1907 and cost $6,848 to build. Its size of 4,100 square feet was intended to accommodate 550 residents, which was the village's population size in 1900. The building is a style of Midwestern Prairie Architecture, which was introduced by Frank Lloyd Wright. W.W. Abell designed the building.
The first floor housed the fire department, a street sprinkling wagon, classrooms, a library, the marshal's office and jail. The council chambers and clerk's office were located on the second floor.
Before the official village hall was constructed, the village board meetings were held in two locations: the Masons Hall, 102 S. Main Street, and the Morton House Hotel, which is now the Shell gas station at the northwest corner of Main Street and Algonquin Road.
For many years the historic village hall was used as a gathering spot for the community, said Don Purn, who serves on the Algonquin Historic Commission.
"There were always several things going on over a period of time," he said.
In 1967 the village expanded the building to accommodate its growing population. The fire station doors were replaced with windows, which provided new council chambers and additional offices.
The enclosed stairs that are on the building's south side were added then, too.
In 1993 the building and its site was deemed a McHenry County Historical Landmark.
It was in the early 1990s that the village's population was outpacing the historic village hall's capacity to serve residents. So in 1996, the village offices and police department moved to their current location at 2200 Harnish Drive.
Today the historic village hall continues to serve as a meeting space for the community and looks much like it did when it was built more than 100 years ago.
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