Originally founded in 1826, the town of Galena, IL, got its start from mining and shipping iron ore called Galena. As the town become more successful and the population grew, important political figures frequently visited the town, including Abraham Lincoln, and Union General Ulysses S. Grant even relocated to this town permanently before the start of the Civil War. All of this important economic and political activity in Galena has lent the city a very unique history. When visiting the area, you should certainly plan to embark on a historic homes tour of Galena to learn more about the city’s past and get a glimpse into the house of prominent community figures.
As you begin planning your trip to Galena, don’t forget to request your complimentary copy of our Vacation Guide. This handy planner is essential for any traveler looking to get an authentic experience of the city based on local insight and recommendations.
The Best Historic Home Tours in Galena
The Annual Tour of Historic Homes
The best way to experience the rich history of the city is by planning to visit during the Annual Historic Homes Tour in Galena. This two-day event leads people through five different historic houses in addition to the Galena History Museum, which is located inside the Barrows Mansion. Along the way, you’ll have the chance to explore these gorgeous homes and appreciate the 19th-century architecture while learning the story behind each building and the family that first inhabited each.
Ulysses S. Grant Home State Historic Site
If you can’t make to the annual event, you can still experience one of the historic home tours in Galena. Because 85 percent of the city’s buildings are protected by the National Register of Historic Places, it’s nearly impossible not to find a historic site to explore during your visit. The Ulysses S. Grant Home is one of the most popular places to visit. Built in 1860, the home was not originally inhabited by Grant and his family but was purchased five years later by a group of local politicians and given to Grant as a gift. The home remained in the family until 1904 when Grant’s children donated the home to the city with the understanding that it would remain as a memorial to the former President and Union General.
Elihu B. Washburne House
The Elihu B. Washburn House is another popular stop for history buffs as this was once the home to the congressman and advisor to both Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant Elihu B. Washburn. You can tour the home, admire furniture and architecture from the period, and learn about this man’s contribution to the country.
Revel in Galena’s History at the Farmer’s Guest House
After an interesting historic home tour of Galena, you’ll want somewhere nearby to unwind. The Farmer’s Guest House is a beautiful property in the historic district with its own unique history. Built as a hotel in 1867, the building still retains its original purpose and much of the original structure. During your stay, you’ll enjoy a gourmet complimentary breakfast prepared each morning and paired with mimosas and a fresh fruit bar. Stay in one of the luxurious rooms and be sure to schedule a day to visit the on-site spa.