Old Market House, erected by the city of Galena in 1845-1846, served
for sixty-five 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.
The Old Market House is a handsome Greek Revival building composed
of a two-story brick central section topped with a frame cupola.
One-story frame wings, projecting from the north and south, include
covered porticoes. The central section’s first floor consists
of an entry hall with staircases to the basement and second floor,
and a large room providing exhibit and meeting space. The wings
hold temporary local history exhibits and provide meeting space
for community groups. The second floor contains the former city
council chamber and city surveyor’s office.
south of the Old Market is an information center staffed by the
Galena-Jo Daviess County Convention and Visitors Bureau. The large
lobby contains a visitor services information desk and exhibits
provided by the Galena-Jo Daviess County Historical Society. The
building also contains accessible to persons with disabilities public
Visitors can view exhibits on the first floor of the Old Market
House. Site interpreters describe aspects of the building’s
history and architecture. The first floor is accessible to persons
with disabilities; the second floor and basement are not. The grounds
are used frequently for community events.
The Old Market House hosts or co-hosts numerous special events,
including the Boy Scouts of America “U. S. Grant Pilgrimage”
in April, “Farmers Market” weekends May-August), and
“Old Market Days” in June.