While taking the long way home after a college visit with my son recently, we stopped for several hours to explore the town of Galena, Illinois. Over 85% of the buildings in Galena are listed in the National Register of Historic Places, which is recognized by the National Park Service:
The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation’s historic places worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America’s historic and archeological resources.
As you walk through the character-filled streets, and climb the steep flights of stairs to the overlook by the old high school, you can imagine life in the 19th-century, as Galena appears to be frozen in time in many respects. The preservation of the architecture is amazing, and the city full of charm. We picked up a walking map and self-guided architectural history tour booklet from the Visitor Center in the old train depot, so I could learn more about some of the history-filled buildings we passed as my son geocached throughout the historic district.
Enjoy the gallery below, hovering over the photos for a brief description, or clicking on any of them for a more expansive slide show. Our brief visit merely scratched the surface of this lovely river town.
Ciao! ~ Kat B
The Ulysses S. Grant home in Galena, Illinois ~ a fully furnished gift from the grateful town residents to the famous Civil War general in the Union army when he returned home.
Old Illinois Central Railroad Depot built in 1857, now the home of the Visitor Information Center for Galena, Illinois.
Statue of Julia Dent Grant on the property of the Grant home in Galena, Illinois ~ roadsideamerica.com refers to the unflattering likeness of President Grant’s wife as the “Mrs. Butterworth Statue” and I would have to agree.
One of the cannons in Grant Park ~ Galena, Illinois. The park also holds a Civil War Blakely cannon, which fired on Fort Sumter in 1861, at the beginning of the Civil War.
Grant Park in Galena, Illinois ~ Housing the statue of Ulysses S. Grant and a gazebo completed in 1901.
Looking from Grant Park toward the footbridge across the Galena River.
Galena’s Historic Downtown District — eclectic shops, galleries and restaurants stretch for blocks in character-filled structures.
The steep stairs leading to the historic downtown district from the old Galena High School, which has been converted to condominiums with incredible views. The stairs were originally wooden in the 1850’s and replaced with concrete the first time in 1919, and then again in 1996 (information courtesy of the Galena Walking Tour booklet).
One of the many historic homes in Galena, Illinois
The Loveland House ~ just down the block from the old high school on Prospect Street. This Italianate Mansion was built in 1870.
View from the bluff in front of the old Galena (Illinois) High School — note Ulysses Grant’s red brick home off in the distance.
Another one of Galena’s historic homes.
Fritz and Frites restaurant in Galena, Illinois — excellent German and French offerings in a cozy atmosphere.
Galena’s Old Blacksmith Shop was built in 1897 and contains many original pieces of equipment and tools.
The Belvedere Mansion on Park Avenue in Galena reflects Italianate architecture with a large cupola, also called a “belvedere” (information courtesy of the Galena Walking Tour booklet). The mansion was completed in 1857.
Other links of interest regarding Galena, Illinois: