Picture the Past: Roller rink in McHenry was once a dance hall

  • A vintage photo of the Fox Dancing Pavilion in McHenry, more recently known as the Just For Fun Roller Rink. It burned down -- for the second time in its history -- on May 27.

    A vintage photo of the Fox Dancing Pavilion in McHenry, more recently known as the Just For Fun Roller Rink. It burned down -- for the second time in its history -- on May 27. Courtesy of the Pat Wirtz Collection

 
 
Posted6/9/2021 1:28 PM

Having been destroyed by fire once before, it is ironic that fire consumed the Just For Fun Roller Rink in McHenry during the evening of May 27.

The building at 914 N. Front St. opened as a dance hall in the 1920s. Arson also was blamed for a 1931 fire that burned what was then the Fox Pavilion to the ground. Four unknown assailants torched the building and kidnapped the night watchman, whom they drove to Schiller Park before releasing him.

 

In addition to the building, all of the instruments belonging to the Count Orloff Orchestra of Chicago -- which had a standing gig there at the time -- were lost. The Fox subsequently was rebuilt on the nearly three-acre Route 31 frontage and eventually was transformed into a roller rink. It operated until COVID-related financial pressures forced its closure in mid-September.

Visit the museum

The McHenry County Historical Museum has reopened to the public. Hours are 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday through Oct. 3 and on the third Saturdays of June, July, August and September. Advanced registration is required on weekdays. The museum is at 6422 Main St., Union. For information, visit www.GotHistory.org or call (815) 923-2267.

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