The McHenry House
This picture, taken in about 1914, shows a gathering of automobile touring enthusiasts on the lawn of the McHenry House Automobile Headquarters. The building, on the corner of Riverside Drive and Pearl Street, had a long history as a hotel. When Jacob C. Bickler took it over in about 1910, he remodeled the whole building. When finished, he had 20 guest rooms, each with hot and cold running water. The dining rooms could accommodate 150 people. He also owned a truck garden and a dairy. The kitchen was managed by Mrs. Bickler. The north and west sides of the building were landscaped, as shown in the photo, to provide a parklike setting. The location was a favorite gathering spot for travelers venturing out on automobile tours of northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin. When the auto salesman occupied the back of the building, his sign “Automobile Headquarters” became the name by which the whole establishment was known. To learn more about the early automobile industry in McHenry County, check out the new exhibit in The James, the travelling museum from the McHenry County Historical Society.