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Christmas in Galena: A Treasure Trove of Historic Homes

This past weekend was our annual family “Christmas in Galena” trip. This was our fifth year staying at the same VRBO home. We always gather together the weekend before Christmas for three nights in this little town located in the hilly, northwest corner of Illinois. I snapped some photos of the historic homes that I think you’ll enjoy.

Belvedere Mansion in Galena, Illinois


This first beauty is Belvedere Mansion located on the Galena River. It was built in 1857 and has history steeped in the Civil War. It’s open for tours.


Belvedere Mansion in Galena, Illinois


Galena was the home town of Ulysses S. Grant, which is its claim to fame. It’s a top tourist attraction in Illinois. You’ll find plenty of beautiful houses – many of them built with brick. Some of the brick houses have green shutters.

Brick house -Christmas in Galena


And others feature blue shutters. Do you have a favorite?

Red brick historic house with blue shutters


Galena enjoys a few old stone houses, too. I’d love to take a tour of each one. I imagine these historic homes have rich wood floors and trim inside, with beautiful staircases and maybe deep set windows.

Small stone house in Galena


Historic stone house in Galena


Not all the historic homes are stone and brick, although a majority of them are. Here’s a pretty Victorian cottage.

Historic clapboard house with front porch - yellow siding and blue shutters


And this home isn’t quite as old as the others, but’s dressed for Christmas.

Christmas in Galena


Here’s the popular Felt Manor – one of the many Bed and Breakfast establishments in town. You don’t have to climb the stairs to enter it though. You can access it from the parking lot at the back of the building.

Felt Manor in Galena, Illinois


I’m not a huge fan of a mansard roof but this one is pretty amazing, and recently renovated.

Felt Manor in Galena, Illinois


This stately brick house is just a few steps away from Felt Manor. The entire street is lined with mansions at the top of the hill overlooking the main street through town.

Double porch on red brick historic home


Christmas in Galena is always a treat with so many of the historic homes decorated for the holidays. This one looks straight out of a Hallmark movie.

Yellow clapboard house with white picket fence - decorated with wreaths and garlands for Christmas


Yellow clapboard house with white picket fence - decorated with wreaths and garlands for Christmas


We’ll end today’s tour of Christmas in Galena with a cute little red brick house with a metal roof.

Little red brick house


Stay tuned for the second half of Christmas in Galena on Wednesday. I took too many photos to feature them all in one post. Hopefully these pretty homes with a light dusting of snow will enhance your Christmas spirit!


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  1. I miss the brick homes from North Carolina where I grew up! We had nothing like that roof on the one house! Beautiful!

  2. Yes, it puts me in the Christmas spirit to see these homes. Every one of them is so beautiful! What a joy it must be for the fortunate people who live in them.
    Thanks for sharing.

  3. Always enjoy this. It’s one of the things that makes me miss living in your part of the country. Happy holidays!

  4. Lovely places. The stone homes remind me of my husband’s ancestral home in Wytheville, VA, the Haller-Gibboney historical home. Built in 1823, it is now a museum with herb gardens and tours.
    Historical homes are so cool. Looking forward to more of your tours. I love that y’all are creating wonderful memories with this special Christmas tradition. ❤️

  5. I enjoyed these old homes and how well they are kept, they are so beautiful. I could spend a week touring old homes, they all have differences they make them extraordinary.

  6. I went to Galena on a family trip when I was a little girl, but of course didn’t appreciate the lovely architecture and history at the time. What a nice tradition you’ve started with your family. I’m sure you’ll all have great memories in the coming years. I always love your posts. They speak to me and my Midwestern self. Merry Christmas Jennifer!

  7. I love your emails and all the homes you feature. So inspiring.
    I moved from Warrenville to a 100 yo fixer-upper farmhouse in Elizabeth, just 14 miles from Galena. I work at the historic DeSoto House Hotel ( desotohouse.com ) in downtown Galena. I hope you’ve had a chance to visit on one of your trips – it’s gorgeous, esp for the holidays! We all pitch in each year to decorate the lobby, grand staircase and Courtyard, starting before Thanksgiving because of all the December events. I’m so glad you keep coming to visit Galena – there’s so much to explore and it’s beautiful any time of the year. Thank you for your wonderful emails!

  8. Must have maid! Lol! These homes are lovely and what eye candy! To clean one daily would be a chore, no? I’m sure those who live there have help and I so enjoy seeing what they do with the holiday decor. So pretty.
    Merry Christmas Jennifer! Thank you for sharing great posts and ideas. I’m still saving the resting place post to remind me that is something we need to do soon. Your so appreciated:0)

  9. We owned a home in Galena for years, we loved living there. Such a beautiful place, a must see.
    Great photos, know all the homes well.