Take a journey back in time
State historic sites offer chance to learn even more
The Julia Dent Grant statue looking over Galena at U. S. Grant’s home at 500 Bouthillier St.

Old Market House 123 N Commerce St, Galena 815-777-3310

The Old Market House, erected by the city of Galena in 1845-1846, served for 65 years as the city market during the decades of Galena’s greatest prosperity as a river port, lead-mining center, and commercial hub. Many towns erected market buildings in the pre-Civil War era, but few remain today. The Old Market House also served as the seat of Galena government and for years had two jail cells. The building was almost completely reconstructed in 1954-1955 and in 1973 was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Located on the ground floor of the Old Market House is an information center staffed by VisitGalena.org.The large lobby contains a visitor services information desk and exhibits. The building south of the Old Market House is also accessible to persons with disabilities public restrooms.

Washburne House 908 Third St, Galena


The Washburne House was the home of Elihu B. Washburne, United States Congressman from 1853 to 1869. An associate of Abraham Lincoln, Washburne was also a wartime “sponsor” of fellow Galenian Ulysses S. Grant. While following the election returns in the Washburne library on the evening of Nov. 3, 1868, Grant learned of his election as president.

Washburne served as Grant’s Minister to France from 1869 to 1877 and in 1879-1880 was considered for the Republican presidential nomination.

The original portion of the two-story brick Greek Revival home was built beginning in 1843, with additions in 1859 and 1860.

The “restored” home’s first floor interprets an entry hall, parlor, sitting room, library, dining room and kitchen with adjoining pantries.

All are decorated and furnished to depict the lifestyle of a well-to-do Midwestern professional. On the second floor are the master bedroom and a second bedroom. In 1973 the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Visitors to the historic site are given guided tours of rooms on the first floor and two second-floor bedrooms, emphasizing the life of Washburne and his Civil Warera friendships with Lincoln and Grant. The story of Washburne’s wife, Adele Gratiot, provides insights to the Galena region’s French and Native American cultures. The house is open on Fridays, May through October.

U. S. Grant Home 500 Bouthillier St, Galena 815-777-3310

The U. S. Grant Home was built in 1859-60 as a residence by Alexander J. Jackson of Galena. When Ulysses S. Grant returned to the city in 1865 as a Civil War hero, he was presented the house.

Grant used the home as his official political and voting address, living there with his family during his 1868 presidential campaign, then for a few brief periods during his presidency (1869-1877) and retirement.

The restored U. S. Grant Home is a two-story brick structure. All of the rooms are decorated and furnished to represent a mid-1860s appearance.

The Grant Home site includes several small mid-19th century homes comprising the three-block Grant Home Historic Neighborhood. Grant State Park, a tree-shaded area south of the Grant Home, has picnic tables for public use.

Also in the park is the Long House, a log building constructed in 1851 and moved to the site from Elizabeth in 1976, representing a typical settler’s home of mid-19th-century Jo Daviess County. The house is not open Mondays or Tuesdays.

Apple River Fort 311 E Myrtle St, Elizabeth 815-858-2028

The Apple River Fort, located in nearby Elizabeth, 311 E. Myrtle St, was the site of an important battle during the Black Hawk War. On June 24, 1832, the settlers of the fort turned back an attack by 200 Sauk and Fox warriors led by Black Hawk himself. The war, lasting only 16 weeks, ended the threat of Indian attacks in the area and opened the region to further settlement. Many notable men participated in the Black Hawk War including Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Davis and General Winfield Scott. Lincoln and his militia company arrived at the Apple River Fort one day after the battle.

Today, the fort has been reconstructed and is open for self-guided tours from May-October. Special events throughout the year highlight many aspects of life in Jo Daviess County in 1832. Exhibits at the Interpretive Center, on the trail, and at the fort tell the story of the Sauk and Fox, the early settlers and the conflict that became known as the Black Hawk War.

Visit appleriverfort.org.