GALENA, Sick. — The Galena Basis, a nonprofit with an purpose to protect the town’s heritage, has centered this yr on supporting the restoration of personal properties that present a touchstone to the previous.
Basis Vice President Beth Baranski stated the group has been restricted to assist public or nonprofit properties by native bylaws up to now. However the donation of a Nineteenth-century house at 348 Gear St. opened up the door for extra, and the group spent the yr restoring the house’s basis.
“We had been puzzling over how we would make a distinction in that area, and we’re nonetheless pondering over lots of concepts,” she stated. “For us, we’re a board. We don’t have a workers. It’s difficult to tackle tasks like that, however I feel we’ve been profitable with the primary one.”
The Gear Road home is believed to be one of many earliest Galena buildings, constructed earlier than 1832. The Galena Basis cites the Rev. John McMahon, who based St. Michael Parish, as the home’s earliest recognized resident.
Basis President Ken Robb stated they have been capable of stabilize the construction, repair the leaking roof and proper the crumbling limestone partitions. The property has been vacant for a few years.
“It was wonderful, we needed to preserve monitor of the particles that we have been hauling away, and on the finish of the cleanup, the contractor we have been working with stated we ended up with 17.5 tons of particles,” he stated.
Basis officers now hope to have a person purchase the home to complete its restoration. Robb stated that, whereas not as grand as a few of Galena’s giant mansions, the home paints an image of what lots of the neighborhood’s first houses seemed like.
“I feel it’s essential, and I feel many individuals share this perception, to not lose that perspective of why individuals moved right here and what occurred and the way it formed at present,” he stated. “These buildings are a bodily reminder, a really actual reminder, of that historical past. Whenever you stroll round Galena, you’ll be able to’t assist however marvel who lived there.”
One other property that took the inspiration’s focus this yr is the previous St. Mary’s Faculty, which was on Landmark Illinois Most Endangered Listing in 2019. St. Mary’s operated as a Catholic faculty for greater than 100 years till 1973, however the constructing on Elk Road has since been empty.
On Wednesday, Dec. 9, the Galena Zoning Board of Appeals will hear a preliminary plan for rezoning the St. Mary’s property and turning it into affordable-housing items. Baranski stated the potential undertaking, led by Financial Development Corp., would create 11 housing items within the present constructing and 24 items in a brand new constructing on the property.
Baranski stated caring for buildings like the previous St. Mary’s is significant to Galena, as an enormous purpose individuals come to go to is to see the numerous historic locations the neighborhood has to supply.
“It could be simple to incrementally lose a constructing,” she stated. “However in some unspecified time in the future, you’ve misplaced it utterly, and I feel that’s our concern.”