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Washburne House

908 Third Street
Galena, IL 61036


May-October, Fr 10-4 p.m.​

NOTE ANDROID USERS ONLY: The donation payment processing function in the Illinois History mobile application for Android devices is currently down. Donations are still being processed through the web site at apologize for the inconvenience.

Teachers in Illinois schools (grades prekindergarten through 12) can apply for grant funds to visit this site on a field trip with their students. Click here for the details.

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.

For more Information:

Galena Country Welcome Center, 123 N. Commerce St., Galena, Il. 61036, 815-776-9200,

Accessibility Information

The following are available for the visitor to the site:

  • There is one parking lot directly behind the home. The lot is black top and there is a accessible space.  
  • Concrete sidewalk on the side and front of the home.Wooden boardwalks in front entrance and back exit. Total distance of boardwalks is approximately 30 feet.
  • The Washburne House is wheelchair accessible from the back door of the home. There is a wooden ramp, which avoids steps.
  • Wheelchairs and scooters are welcomed in the Washburne House, on the main level, and welcomed in all outdoor areas.
  • Note: Restrooms are not accessible.
  • Harnessed and leashed service animals are welcome in the Washburne House.  There are no outdoor water fountains to accommodate service animals.

Doorways to the Washburne House are accessible for wheelchairs.  There is a boardwalk ramp into the back door that avoids stairs. There are stairs to the second floor, but an informational photo board is provided for guests that are unable to climb steps. The tour lasts approximately 30 minutes. There are benches outside to sit and a chair is provided for anyone needing to sit once inside.