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Statewide Endangered

2014 Ten Most Endangered Historic Places 













Camp Algonquin
1889 Cary-Algonquin Road, Unincorporated (McHenry County)


Closed in 2011, the 116-acre Camp Algonquin is one of only four camps built in the United States during the “Fresh Air in the Country” movement, started during the late-1800s. This movement was fueled by the belief that spending time in a rural environment would alleviate the problems caused by inner city living. In 1907, Camp Algonquin was established as a fresh air camp on 20 acres along the Fox River. The camp was supported by the Chicago Bureau of Charities, Chicago Board of Trade, Chicago Tribune, Oak Park churches and numerous private donors. The camp was situated within a heavily wooded, hilly landscape that once belonged to the Gillian family, McHenry County pioneers. Funding continued to support the growth of the camp with the addition of land and new buildings through 1909. In 1910, the noted landscape architect Jens Jensen was hired to produce a plan for the original 20 acres of the camp. A detailed site plan from February 1911 depicts 16 buildings, including the three existing Tribune dormitories and the Board of Trade recreation building, as well as a swimming pool, council ring, and extensive native landscaping, vegetable gardens and trails.

During the Chicago Relief and Aid Society’s years of operation, ill and under-resourced Chicago mothers and their children were brought to the camp and taught about proper nutrition and physical health. As the camp continued to grow, it added social work, education and recreation programs. In later years the operations of Camp Algonquin were taken over by Metropolitan Family Services, a Chicago-based social services agency. By 2004, due to financial difficulties, the Metropolitan Family Services sold the camp to the McHenry County Conservation District (Conservation District). The YMCA of McHenry County operated the facility on behalf of the Conservation District until 2011 when the YMCA also ran into financial difficulties and the camp ceased operations.

The Conservation District continued to perform basic maintenance on the camp’s 47 buildings, but even with periodic maintenance many of the buildings have fallen into disrepair. In 2013, the Conservation District board voted to sell the furniture and fixtures from all but a handful of buildings and agreed that many would be demolished. The Conservation District is developing a master plan of the entire 279 acres of which four camp buildings - a century-old dairy barn, a small counselor’s cabin built in the 1950’s, one of the three early dormitories and the recreation building—may be retained and repurposed. Keeping some of the original structures and incorporating design elements from Jens Jensen's 1911 plan of the grounds would create important connections to the local and regional past.

In March, State Senator Pam Althoff introduced two bills (SB 3341 and SB 3342) to address the challenges the Conservation District has in funding the rehabilitation of historic properties.


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What You Can Do


Please ask your State Senator and State Representative to support SB 3341 and SB 3342.


Additional Links


Bill Status: SB 3341

Bill Status: SB 3342

Camp Algonquin – Fox Bluff Conservation Area – McHenry County Conservation District

Camp Algonquin Map

What Is Your Favorite Camp Algonquin Memory?
Algonquin-Lake in the Hills Patch, March 14, 2011

Camp Algonquin Will Be Missed
TribLocal: Crystal Lake, February 28, 2011







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