Originally built in 1845 by Cyrus Aldrich, a member of the thirty-sixth and thirty-seventh congresses, Aldrich Guest House started as a one-room, one and a half story house of which Room 3 now occupies the top level of.
In 1853, J. Russell Jones, purchased the house and, at the request of his wife, built an addition which is now the parlor and two bedrooms on the second floor, of which Room 1 is a part of and bears his namesake. After the addition was built, Mrs. Jones still felt as if the house was not large enough, so Mr. Jones built one of Galena’s finest and largest mansions for her – the Belvedere Mansion. Jones was a close friend of Ulysses S. Grant and frequently hosted him for dinners and social gatherings. He allowed Grant to march his troops on the green, now our lawn and gardens, and rode the train with him to Washington, DC after Grant won the election as he was very influential in getting Grant to run and remained close to him serving as his confidant. Jones was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives, and was also very close with Abraham Lincoln who consulted Jones to see if Grant was going to run against him in the election. Jones served as a pallbearer on Lincoln’s funeral train through Chicago.
R.H. McClellan bought the house in 1859 and added the final main addition to the house and lived here until his death in 1903. This addition is the dining room, the library, and Room 4 and Room 5 named after Mr. and Mrs. McClellan. Mr. McClellan was a member of the Illinois House of Representatives and later the Illinois Senate and was very close friends with Abraham Lincoln. His second wife, Clara kept a scrapbook which was found in 1969 and contains a newspaper article that states that when Abraham Lincoln gave his speech at the DeSoto House Hotel, he spent the night at the residence of R.H. McClellan.
After the death of R.H. McClellan, the house became a country club owned by the City of Galena. A photograph taken on the lawn of residents taking a break from a match of lawn tennis and eating watermelon is used as the cover for the book Galena, IL – Images of America. The house then changed hands several times until it was purchased in 1926 by Dr. Edward Bench and his wife who resided here until 1967 when it was purchased by the Crowe family. In 1984, the house was sold to the Reynolds family who converted the house into one of Galena’s first bed and breakfasts. Douglas and Robert Mahan are the sixth innkeepers and are very excited to continue the history of excellence and prestige and to share it with as many people as possible.