908 Third Street
Galena, IL 61036
May-October, Fr 10-4 p.m.
Washburne House was for many years 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 November 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 are given 25-minute guided tours of rooms on the first floor and two second-floor bedrooms, emphasizing the life of Elihu Washburne and his Civil War-era friendships with Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant. The story of Washburne’s wife, Adele Gratiot, provides insights on the Galena region’s French and Native American cultures. The state’s efforts to restore and refurnish the building are also described. The building's first floor is accessible to persons with disabilities, the second floor is not.