Annual Tour of Homes showcases historic Galena PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Local Events
Written by Galena/Jo Daviess County CVB   
Thursday, 04 August 2011 08:19

September 24 & 25 event to feature 19th century architecture

 GALENA  Ill.  – From a cozy miners’ cottage to a grand Second Empire jailhouse,   Galena  ’s incredible architecture will take center stage during the 44th Annual Tour of Historic Galena Homes. Autumn is always a popular time to visit scenic   Galena  , but add the chance to tour inside five private historic buildings and the lure becomes irresistible.  Preservation, interior decorating, antiques and history are featured elements of the popular event hosted by the Galena-Jo Daviess County Historical Society. The guided tour runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., rain or shine, both Saturday and Sunday, September 24 & 25, 2011.

Originally built as a combination bakery, market, and boarding house, farmers who came to   Galena   from a distance to sell their wares could stay upstairs in the Italianate-style Farmers’ Home Hotel. Built in 1867 for   Casper   and Balzar Vogel, descendants of the bakers’ family occupied the site until 1978, just more than 111 years. The building evolved as an antique shop, and then a restaurant, as a series of owners remodeled the interior spaces. The current owners purchased the Spring Street property in 2001 and opened an inn with nine guest rooms and spacious common areas. Historic architecture, vintage décor, lush gardens and patios, and its close proximity to downtown make this guest house a perennial favorite.

Frank and Betsy Jane Smith built a charming two-story house on   Wight Street   in 1856. Frank was co-owner of the Fuller and Smith Company, wholesale grocers and agents for the Anchor Steamship Line. The two-over-two windows, small second story horizontal windows, and narrow sidelights with multi-paned lights above the centered front door are typical of the late 1850s. The next owner, in 1877, was prominent local dentist, Dr. Franklin Stryker. A native of Prince Edward County, Ontario, he was one of eleven children. After teaching, then training as a dentist, Stryker moved to   Galena   in 1865. He worked the first year for Dr. J. Brown, taking over his dental practice in 1866 and marrying Dr. Brown’s daughter, Jennie, soon after. The couple raised four children in the home. After changing hands a number of times, the home was purchased by the current owners in 2009. Saffron-colored built-in cabinets surround the great room fireplace; original honey-hued pine flooring and open spaces make this a cozy home, with a wonderful garden area in the rear.

Built in 1878 at a cost of $16,000, the Old County Jailhouse is  Second Empire  architecture three stories high with a Mansard roof. The top floor had six “airy apartments provided for evil-doers” according to the August 25, 1879 Galena Daily Gazette. The first and second floors were a residence for the Sheriff and his family. As a security feature, the flooring and ceiling of the prisoner area were built of iron beams and brick arches, then covered with two-inch plank, then a heavy iron plate riveted solid. Now exposed as the second floor ceiling, the soaring brick arches provide a delightful industrial feel to the master suite and bedroom areas. Sold by the County in the 1970s, the Old Jail sat empty and deteriorating until 2000 when new owners stabilized the structure and completely rebuilt its distinctive roof, showcased during the 2003 Tour. In 2006 the current owner moved his eclectic collection in and eventually plans to create two condos on the upper floors.

An enchanting miner’s cottage nestled into the private hillside behind the Old Jailhouse was built in 1846 by Frederick Schwatka, a Galena Market Master. Originally a two story brick dwelling 30’ x 16’, the cottage was listed for sale in the January 11, 1853 Weekly Northwestern Gazette: “5 rooms and a kitchen - a first rate Cistern, holding between 70 and 80 barrels of water - a Cow Stable, Shed, and other conveniences. The whole is enclosed with a good substantial fence.” Apparently the fence was not substantial enough, as just 10 months later Schwatka advertised a $5 reward for the return of his stray three-year-old red heifer. Purchased in 2008 by the current owners and enjoying its Home Tour debut, the secluded cottage with exposed stone walls is decorated in an artistic, whimsical style.

James Crowley arrived in   Galena   in 1850, wed Mary Allwell and built a house in the mid-1850s at   403 Jackson St  .. Mr. Crowley, a Civil War veteran of the 45th   Illinois  , served as East Galena Township Assessor for 30+ years. The property originally faced   Fourth Street  , no longer used, which ran directly in front of the U.S. Grant Home, just above Crowley House. The Crowleys raised eight children in the original 1,000 sq. ft. 1850s structure that features first floor 24-inch thick stone walls, a warm fireplace and wide plank floors. A kitchen and bedroom were added in 1896.   Crowley   descendants owned the home for 90 years until 1946. The house was last on Tour in 1978, after a renovation which added an office, side porch and garage. The current owners, who purchased it in 1989, made a final addition including a dining room, windowed garden room and exercise room in 2006. The property is eclectic in style, combining the original Federal structure with several additions that blend nicely into a pleasing whole.

A free shuttle service will operate between all tour homes and ticket locations. Tour guides, many in period attire, will provide historic narrative at each home. Free admission to the   Galena   History   Museum   is included with the home tour ticket and will include the new Ghosts of the Grants hologram presentation. During the home tour, the museum will be featuring a new nationally-acclaimed temporary exhibit entitled “Ulysses S. Grant: Soldier,” showcasing the military years of   Galena  ’s favorite son.

The 44th Annual Tour of Historic Galena Homes is sponsored by the   Galena   - Jo Daviess County Historical Society. Tickets are $15, $13 in advance (before September 15); children under 10 are free with an adult. Tickets and maps are available during the tour weekend at the   Old   Train   Depot   Visitor  Information   Center   at   101 Bouthillier St.  , the DeSoto House Hotel at   230 S. Main St.  , the history museum at   211 S. Bench St  , the Gateway to History at  403 S. Main St.   and at any home on the tour. Advance tickets (non-refundable) are available at the   Galena   History   Museum  , or phone 815-777-9129 to purchase by credit card.

For further event information, contact the Historical Society at 815-777-9129 or visit Additional area offerings and visitor information may be found at the Galena/Jo Daviess County Convention and Visitors Bureau at or by calling 877-464-2536. While in town, visit the CVB’s  Old   Train   Depot Visitor Information Center at 101 Bouthillier St. (corner of Park Avenue) for on-site assistance and countywide information.

#   #   #

blog comments powered by Disqus

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
You must be logged in to post a comment. Please register if you do not have an account yet.