Aldrich Guest House Galena IL Bed & Breakfast History
Cyrus Aldrich, a veteran Whig and Illinois State Representative, built the original 1 1/2 story, one-room, brick house circa 1845. Aldrich, who was also the Jo Daviess County Register of Deeds, left Galena for Minneapolis where he was elected as a Republican thirty-sixth and seventh Congresses. Among other career highlights, President Lincoln appointed him in 1863 to be one of the commissioners to examine claims of settlers who suffered in the Sioux War of 1862. Aldrich Avenue in Minneapolis was named in his honor.
In 1853, J. Russell Jones, who later built Galena's grandest mansion, the Belvedere, built a major addition in the Greek Revival style. President Grant appointed his good friend Jones as Minister to Belgium in 1869.
Ulysses S. Grant was entertained "in the spacious double parlors" of the house by Robert H. McClellan, an Illinois State Senator, lawyer and the President of the Bank of Galena and later the National Bank of Galena. McClellan and his wife, Clara, lived in the home for over 40 years. It was McClellan who further added to the house adopting Italianate architectural details. It is said that Grant's troops trained on the "green" between the Aldrich house and its neighbor Congressman Elihu B. Washburne's house. Both Lincoln and Mark Twain were visitors to the house during the McClellan years.
Ownership of the Aldrich House then changed hands several times. At the turn of the 20th century it was a country club that featured tennis and lawn bowling. The Dr. Edward Bench family owned the house from the early 1920's until 1967 when it was purchased the Crowe family. The Crowes discovered an album of newspaper clippings which traced McClellan's career, and his close association with Grant and Galena itself from the mid to late 1800's.