Kane County History: St. Charles Museum Site — From Serving Gas To Preserving History
- Editor’s Note: Kane County has an amazing history and outstanding resources for local historians. This is Week 2 of Kane County Connects’ weekly series of articles written by staff members from local historical societies and history museums. Today’s article was submitted by Alison Costanzo, executive director of the St. Charles History Museum.
A new exhibit at the St. Charles History Museum —”Serving Gas to Preserving History” — will explore the connected stories and histories of the McCornack Gas Station and the St. Charles History Museum.
Perched on the corner of Main Street and 3rd Avenue for 90 years, the McCornack Gas Station building has seen many changes, including ownership and name changes.
Built by the McCornack Oil Company in 1928, this Tudor style building stands where Ira Minard’s home once stood. Architect Frank Gray designed the building.
Charles S. McCornack established the company in 1904, when he bought an independent oil business from Henry Delno. The company started out with only 10 oil tanks, four horses, and a few sleighs, but their delivery of kerosene to homes and businesses grew to include the expanse of the Fox Valley. In 1911, the company bought its first truck, and also began to supply customers with gasoline to run their own automobiles. At this time, the company supplied Red Hot gasoline and Excelene motor oil.
Charles McCornack died in 1935. His son, Donald, inherited the company. A 1950 advertisement in the Tri-City Directory stated that McCornack sold Texaco Petroleum products, Firestone tires, home, and auto supplies.
In 1962, Donald McCornack sold the building to the Texaco Oil Company. The Bentz Family later leased the building, which was abandoned and boarded up in 1990.
Today, the building serves as the location of the St. Charles History Museum. The museum, formed 85 years ago by many of St. Charles’ most influential people, was housed in the Municipal Center until its move to this location in May of 2001.
“Serving Gas to Preserving History” will celebrate the two separate enterprises, while also bringing together the history they now share in serving the community.
The museum is closed right now to perform its annual maintenance along with care for the collection. But it will reopen Feb. 9 to an array of exhibits and events.
About The St. Charles History Museum
The St. Charles History Museum is a 501©3, non-profit organization operating the St. Charles History Museum and historic archive. The museum holds more than 10,000 photographs in its archive and 15,000 artifacts in its collection.
The museum is located in the 1928 McCornack Oil Company building at 215 East Main St. The building served St. Charles as a gas station from 1928 until 1990. After renovations, the Museum opened to the public in May 2001. Prior to 2001 the Museum was located in the St. Charles Municipal Building.
The St. Charles History Museum houses permanent and temporary exhibits, the Colonial Anderson Room, photo and research archives, the Curious Fox Gift Shop, administrative offices, and the storage-preservation repository for the museum’s collections.
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