Aldrich Guest House - Galena Bed & Breakfast History
Cyrus Aldrich, a veteran Whig and Illinois State Representative built the original 1 1/2 story, 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 J. Russell 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. Grant's troops trained on the "green" between the Aldrich and its neighbor Congressman Elihu B. Washburne's home.
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, his close association and entertaining in the home of President Lincoln, U.S. Grant and Mark Twain.
The Aldrich House Today
Brian and I are now the fifth owners of the Aldrich, which was one of the first Galena homes converted to a Bed and Breakfast in 1984. We have been here over five years now and we have been privileged to meet so many interesting people from all walks of life, many of whom have become friends. Even after five years we are still discovering new parts of Galena"s history and the surrounding countryside. We have also become grandparents for the first time and with having the flexibility that we do, we have been able to make trips to Chicago so we don"t miss out on our little guy and enjoy the best of both worlds.