laundry, gardening and keeps up with local events to provide the best guidance for her guests.
“Every bed and breakfast is different,” said Carmine Farruggia, co-owner of the Cloran Mansion. “Every bed and breakfast is an extension of the personality of the owner.”
Farruggia said he and his wife, Cheryl, had specific requirements when purchasing a B&B, nearly all of which were met with the Cloran Mansion. Key amenities were rooms with fireplaces and double whirlpools, amenities which give Cloran Mansion character and adds to the home’s romantic atmosphere, said Farruggia.
Steffan said she and her husband, Don, also had a vision of what their B&B would look like.
“We really like comfortable elegance,” said Steffan. “An atmosphere where you feel pampered, but you feel like you can put your feet up on the furniture.”
Steffan said she enjoys all types of B&Bs, from humble to grand, but the question became what kind of B&B did she want to run.
Breakfast is part of the name and an important part of the B&B experience. Whether a guest has special dietary restrictions or preferences, breakfast will be served according to each person’s needs.
Wadman said she likes to prepare something special for her guests.
“We fix something you wouldn’t normally have at home,” said Wadman.
Steffan, who has been featured on the Food Network and is an accomplished chef, draws on her skills and experience to prepare a variety of foods for her guests.
Robert said he has seen two guests cry at breakfast.
“We’ve made two people cry at breakfast,” said Robert. “One person said they felt so well taken care of and the other said they never saw a breakfast so beautiful.”
Along with eating breakfast, Farruggia said the table is a place where friendships begin.
“They get to meet other guests and a lot of friendships develop at the breakfast table,” said Farruggia.
It’s not uncommon for strangers to become friends and book lodging for the next year together, said Farruggia.
Another unique aspect of a B&B is one never knows who the other guests are until seated at the table. Farruggia said his clientele have ranged from presidential cabinet members and state senators to accountants and construction workers.
In Galena, B&Bs range from country elegance to Victorian opulence, with each home serving as a portal to the city’s rich history.
Aldrich Guest House, located on Third Street which has served as home to multiple legislators, boasts Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant as former guests. The home was built in 1845 by U. S. representative Cyrus Aldrich. The next owner, J. R. Jones, would often host for his close friend Grant and also served as a pallbearer on Lincoln’s funeral train.
R. H. McClellan took ownership of the home and was both an Illinois representative and senator. Also located on Third Street, is the historic home of U. S. representative E. B. Washburne and the private home of U. S. representative John Cox.
Inside and out, the Aldrich
Best of Galena is a not-for-profit organization of 13 innkeepers that operate for the good of the community.
Hosting fund-raisers, helping needy families at Christmas, supporting food pantries and other public services in the community, Best of Galena embodies the spirit
Guest House, and its location on Third Street, overflows with legends and luminaries from American history.
Living in a home with such deep roots in not only the city’s history, but American history, is not lost on Robert and Douglas.
“We both come from very humble beginnings,” said Robert. “To now be privileged to live in a 4,000-square-foot home that presidents hung out in, that’s amazing.”
“It’s pretty amazing to just be in the presence of the history that has taken place here,” said Douglas.
Along with Steffan’s Farmer’s Guest House, Aldrich Guest House has been given a Green Designation by the Galena Area Green Designation Committee. The designation denotes the property adheres to criteria set forth by the committee for green practices.
Steffan’s Farmer’s Guest House is one of the few historic Galena buildings still fulfilling its original purpose. The property was built in 1867 as the Farmer’s Home Hotel. The building has witnessed 150 years of change from its post along U. S. 20.
The Cloran Mansion is a symbol of the American Dream. The Italianate-styled mansion was built by John Cloran, an Irish immigrant.
Starting out in Galena’s famous lead mines with only $8 to his name, Cloran soon realized his fortune lay outside the cramped mine shafts. Cloran operated a successful grocery operation and built his mansion in 1880, a true rags-to-riches story.
of innkeeper as a servant to help others. Not only does the group help the community at large, but also they are there to support each other in times of need.
“We are very non-competitive, we help each other,” said Farruggia. “I’ve seen everybody pitch in to help an owner that was incapacitated. Other B&B owners went there, checked in their guests and cleaned their rooms.”
A willingness to help and serve are essential
characteristics of an innkeeper, said Steffan. Through Best of Galena, innkeepers are able to share their gifts with the community at large.
The Hellman Guest House has been perched in the hills overlooking Galena since its construction in 1895. John Hellman was another successful grocer and the home was later purchased by U. S. representative Leo Allen. Allen was instrumental in working with the Army Corps of Engineers to build the flood gates and have the levee raised to protect Galena from chronic flooding.
The innkeepers of the four respective B&Bs all said there are misconceptions about staying at a B&B. A common concern is coming into someone’s home and invading their space. In Galena, every B&B must be owner-occupied. Wadman said simply reassuring guests of what is theirs to enjoy quickly puts them at ease.
Robert said another worry is feeling forced to interact with the innkeepers or other guests, which he said simply isn’t the case.
“One (misconception) is feeling like they’re being forced to interact with other guests,” said Robert. “That’s not here.”
He continued and said there is no obligation on the guest’s part to interact with anybody and that some of the best reviews come from the people he sees the least.
The ultimate goal of all the innkeepers is to make sure the guest has all their needs met and enjoy their stay.
“Our job is to make sure everyone who stays with us has the best possible Galena experience,” said Steffan.
See page 54 for a complete listing of Best of Galena bed and breakfasts.