Skip to Content
200 North Main St | Bloomington, Illinois | 309-827-0428
/ Blog / Post
1 min read

McDonald’s in Normal 806 S. Main St., 1961

First McDonald's in Normal, 1961.

The Twin Cities first McDonald’s restaurant opened in early 1959. The view here is looking southeast from the 800 block of South Main Street in Normal. The chain, which at this time boasted some 100 restaurants, had earlier opened drive-ins in Peoria and Decatur. Today, of course, McDonald's is one of the largest fast food restaurant chains in the world, with more than 36,000 “outlets” in 119 countries.

Unfortunately, though one gets a good look at the iconic sign, the restaurant is only partially visible to the left. That’s Kohlhagen’s Standard Service gas station on the right. The current McDonald’s is roughly at the same location, though it’s closer to the Hovey Avenue / Beaufort Street intersection (about where Kohlhagen’s is here).

Bill Kemp

Bill Kemp

Bill Kemp is the Librarian at the McLean County Museum of History


Bob Dobski4/24/19 5:40pm

Hi Bill……The Museum has no other pictures of the “McDonalds” that opened in 1959 ?? Also, aren’t there any “Early “ Pictures of “ Beer Nuts or “Illinois State University “ or “Illinois Wesleyan University “ ??

Michelle Ruiz5/01/19 12:08pm

Hi Bill, I wanted to reach out to you to see if there is a high res image of this McDonald’s for purchase? I have been in contact with George however as of recently he as not responded. I work for an art consulting firm and our client is looking to include vintage imagery in their collection. This museum has been a fantastic source for us, but I will need to wrap up this next catalog by today. At the moment, all I need is a confirmation from you to see if this image is available for licensing. “McDonald’s in Normal 806 S. Main St., 1961” – thank you

Paul Sapp7/30/20 3:07pm

My dad was owner/operator of that McDonalds. It was the 88th one built in 1959. 614-622-0133

Paul H Sapp8/04/21 11:24pm

I have a few photos my dad’s McDonald’s from the late 50’s.

Leave a comment