When the French discovered Galena and the ore mines that the Fox and Sac Indians had been using long before then, the city became destined to have an important role in the country. Settlers began to flock here in the early 1800s and with them came great early American architecture. Since this time, Galena has truly preserved a lot of its early character and buildings, making it one of the National Register's Historic Places list.

The first house went up in 1826, the John Dowling house; which today is Galena's oldest building. The house was built of limestone and was used primarily as a trading post and secondarily as living quarters. Today the house holds early artifacts from the early Galena era.

The DeSoto House is another great place to see early American architecture. Built in 1855, the DeSoto house on Main Street was a hotel and a social gathering place for the city. Its claim to fame is that Abraham Lincoln once delivered a speech from an upper balcony of the house.

The Old Market State Historic Site was built in 1847. The building is an example of Greek Revival architecture. Another fine example of Greek Revival is in the Washburne State Historical Site which boasts retaining almost everything from its originality.

The Ulysses S. Grant Historic House has been preserved and restored to show off its post-civil war look.

The overall look of Galena will bring one back to the time of its birth, the early 1800s, the building of the U.S.