The Old McHenry County Courthouse, the majestic anchor of the bustling Historic Woodstock Square, was designed by John Mills Van Osdel, chief architect of the Palmer House in Chicago, and erected in 1857. Located in the exact center of McHenry County, the building was joined by the accompanying Sheriff’s House & Jail in 1887, and issued landmark status by the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. For over a century, the Old Courthouse served thousands of residents from throughout McHenry County until a new government center was built in 1972. Local residents purchased the historic buildings in 1973 and established an art gallery, studios, restaurant and museum space, including the former Chester Gould/Dick Tracy Museum.
By 2011 it was clear the building’s long-term maintenance, and growing repair and restoration needs, were cost-prohibitive for private ownership to continue, and the buildings were transferred to the City of Woodstock. The City of Woodstock proudly announced in August 2023 that after a project cost of $22 million, renovations were complete using a variety of funding mechanisms including TIF funds, Historic Tax Credits, and grants. Renamed “The Old Courthouse Center,” the buildings are now in good shape to last another 100 years!