Thursday, December 24, 2015

2014 Joe Miller Trust Contribution

Mission accomplished. Kim Keuter from Galena State Bank recently presented a check to The Galena Foundation on behalf of the Joe Miller Trust in the amount of $33,408.69 as its 2014 contribution.

The money will be used to make the final payment --$22,198.84--to the city of Galena for the depot restoration project. The balance will be applied to a matching grant for the Old Market House State Historic Site restoration project in the amount of $10,775 and to the Hess Farm House on Ferry Landing Road, owned by the Jo Daviess Conservation Foundation, in the amount of $434.85.

From left: David Wilmarth, Galena Foundation treasurer; Ken Robb, Galena Foundation board member;
 Charles Marsden, Galena Foundation president; and Keuter.  Hillary Dickerson photo.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

New book on Galena out next week

Courtesy of Galena Gazette

GALENA–The Galena Foundation is starting a new fundraiser in a new way.
The Galena Foundation has partnered with author Phil Aleo, to write a book, “Galena, Illinois–A Timeless Treasure.” This 320-page book is filled with old and new pictures and narrative about Galena. The book will be released in Galena on Dec. 9, and will be available at different venues around town.

An ad in next week’s Gazette will provide specific information as to where the book will be available, and where the author will be available for book signings. 

The Galena Foundation was organized more than 30 years ago by a group wishing to preserve Galena, its heritage and history. The Foundation’s mission is to initiate and/or provide financial support for community projects which preserve, enhance or nurture Galena’s heritage, culture and quality of life. 

The Foundation has recently partnered with the city of Galena and finished work on the accurate restoration of the Galena Train Depot. One of next year’s projects will be working in the restoration of Grant Park. The Foundation is also in the process of registering a total database of Galena’s historic district at

For more information about the work of the Foundation, to purchase a book or to donate to the Foundation, email

The Foundation has a nine-member board of directors. For more information, visit

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Saving Turner Hall: City presented with $81,325 for improvements to Turner Hall

by Hillary Dickerson, editor
Courtesy of Galena Gazette

GALENA–Years ago there were some intense evenings of bingo at Turner Hall. It was the social event of the week as people lined the tables, set up their cards, set their good luck charms in front of them and settled in for what they hoped would be a winning evening. 
Many dedicated community volunteers helped pull off those successful bingo fundraiser evenings, and now, Turner Hall will benefit from the proceeds. 

The Save Turner Hall Committee and Galena Foundation recently presented the city of Galena with a check for $81,325.29–the remaining Save Turner Hall funds that were entrusted to the Galena Foundation to be used for improvements at the city-owned Turner Hall on Bench Street.

Galena Foundation board members, former Save Turner Hall Committee members and city officials gathered for the presentation of a $81,325.29 check -- all funds raised by the Save Turner Hall Committee and turned over to the Galena Foundation. The funds will be used for renovations at the city-owned facility on Bench Street. From left: David Eaton, Karen Greiner, David Wilmarth, Adam Johnson, Carl Johnson, Charles Fach, Pat Smith, Daryl Watson, Janelle Keeffer, Mark Moran, Fern Moyer, Craig Albaugh, Jim Lander, Charles Marsden, Jeremy White and Beth Baranski. Hillary Dickerson photo.

Those funds will help pay for exactly what Save Turner Hall Committee members hoped, according to Charles Marsden, president of the Galena Foundation board and chair of the city’s Turner Hall committee. 

Just before the check presentation, Marsden explained the goals of the committee and foundation in focusing on Turner Hall are three-fold: make Turner Hall more appealing and comfortable, reduce energy consumption and utility bills and save taxpayers’ money. 
The hope is that when all work is complete, Turner Hall will be a first-class historic venue for all to use and enjoy. 

Projects recently completed and paid for with the Save Turner Hall funds include: window maintenance, removal and replacement of loose mortar around windows, repair and tuckpoint around windows, new exterior doors, new fire escapes and sidewalks, balcony repair, storm windows, and temporary waterproofing at the rear of the stage. 
The city council in May approved an agreement with the Galena Foundation for the work at Turner Hall that goes beyond the funds from Save Turner Hall. 

As part of that agreement, the Galena Foundation, working in cooperation with the trustees of the Joe Miller Trust at Illinois Bank & Trust, intends to commit several years of funds to the work at Turner Hall. 

“It is the intention of the Galena Foundation that it will take on 100 percent of the cost of this project and will not require the city of Galena to provide the normal 50 percent match of funds required in the foundation’s typical grants for historic preservation,” the agreement reads.

The work is estimated to cost approximately $180,000, including design and analysis, labor, materials, contingencies and fees.

Future work includes interior lighting upgrades, a historic structures report and paint study, exterior balcony painting, small roof over south side door, restroom updates, upgrade of kitchen wiring for caterers, new roof on kitchen and several other items. 

The Turner Hall committee and Galena Foundation continue to investigate possible grants that could eventually help fund an addition to the building. That project, however, would be several years in the future.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Historic preservation: Program highlights incentives for historic buildings

Courtesy of Galena Gazette

GALENA–Interested in learning about financial incentives for preserving historic buildings? 
If so, The Galena Foundation, First Community Bank of Galena and the DeSoto House are sponsoring a historic preservation program “Financial Incentives for Historic Buildings,” on Tuesday, Oct. 27 from 6-8 p.m., at the DeSoto House Hotel.

This program may be of interest if you are planning any major projects on a designated historic home or if your commercial building is located in the National Register Historic District. The program covers saving money with historic tax incentives and other financial sources for rehabilitation work.

Homeowners of owner-occupied residences can receive property tax benefits by qualifying for the property tax assessment freeze program. Income-producing property owners (commercial, office, rental residential, bed and breakfast, etc.) can qualify for federal income tax credits by utilizing the Federal Historic Preservation Tax Credits.

Easements and a limited number of grants may also be available for certain historic buildings. 

Carol Dyson, AIA, Illinois Historic Preservation Agency chief architect and tax incentives manager, and Frank Butterfield, Landmarks Illinois Springfield office director, will present program information. 

This is an opportunity to learn about the different applications and eligibility procedures for each of these programs.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

City, Galena Foundation plan to make improvements to Grant Park

by Hillary Dickerson, editor
Courtesy of Galena Gazette

GALENA–The Galena City Council, during its Monday, Sept. 28 meeting, approved a memorandum of understanding with the Galena Foundation for improvements to Grant Park. 

In a letter to the council, Charles Marsden, president of the Galena Foundation, explained work would include the development of a master plan for the improvement of the park prepared by a licensed landscape architect, a tree inventory prepared by a certified arborist, and research of the park’s plantings using historic information and photography. 

“The work of the project is intended to improve the appearance and appeal of Grant Park as a venue, to be enjoyed by people living in and visiting Galena, reduce maintenance costs for the city, and promote public involvement in the maintenance of plantings in Grant Park,” Marsden wrote. 

There is currently not a cost estimate for the project, Marsden said. The master plan and tree inventory need to be completed before that information will be available. 

Marsden indicated it is the intention of the Galena Foundation to “take on 100 percent of the effort to develop this project by undertaking the development of the master plan and tree inventory, followed by the prioritization of improvements to be made to the park. Once this prioritization is established, funding will be obtained for the improvements.”

There was little discussion by council members other than to thank the Galena Foundation for the work it does for the community. 

The council will hear more about the project as new information becomes available and the project moves forward. 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

It’s Gary! Galena pastor will share musical talents Saturday

by P. Carter Newton, publisher
Courtesy of Galena Gazette

This coming Saturday, June 20, Hunter Fuerste will be bringing his big band to Turner Hall. Some in the crowd will be seated at tables. Others will be seated in rows of chairs on the main level or in the Turner Hall balcony.

One thing can almost be guaranteed: When the music starts, the toes will be a tapping. I’ll guarantee you that!!!

I’ll guarantee you one other thing: There will be a band member who will be enjoying the occasion as much as anyone. That person is the Rev. Gary Kirst, pastor of Galena Bible Church.

Or. . .if I can be a bit less formal. . .Gary. You just can’t be too formal with a guy who’s on your Tuesday night golf league team!

Gary’s a member of Hunter Fuerste and his American Vintage Orchestra. That’s interesting enough: a local guy who has the chops, as the saying goes, to pursue his musical interests with a big time big band.

What’s really interesting is the relationship Gary has with the band’s leader, Hunter Fuerste. You might also say that musically, the two are joined at the hip.

In the early 1980s, the two played in a Milwaukee, Wis., based big band, the Harry Kay Orchestra. Gary attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison pursing a master’s degree in meteorology and drove over to Milwaukee on weekends to play with the band. Hunter was attending the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee.

Then life happened. Hunter graduated from medical school and ended up back in Dubuque, Iowa.

Gary finished his master’s program. “I was the worst forecaster in the class,” he admits. “I wasn’t headed for greatness in the field.”

He was blessed, though, with a strong music foundation. He started playing trumpet in the fourth grade. “My band director was an enthusiastic guy who happened to be a trumpet player,” he adds.

Then he fell into musical friendship with a group of guys in high school who all liked jazz. Like, man, they were really into it.

The formed a quintet. The piano player could transcribe the tunes and they gave each other room to improvise.

“That’s the way you learn,” he continues. “You need to improvise in order to get comfortable doing it.”

When Gary moved onto college, he continued fostering his interest in music.

In graduate school, he and his wife, Linda, became ever more involved in their Madison church. He really enjoyed his pastor/mentor, the Rev. Dick Sisson.

And since he wasn’t “headed for greatness” in the meteorological field, Gary began thinking about loftier pursuits. “I thought that if I could do anything in the world, I would like to serve God full-time,” he recalls. “I was beginning to spend more time on Bible studies than meteorology studies.”

As was his band director, his minister was also enthusiastic and encouraging. Seminary was in the future. He applied to and was accepted to Trinity International University in Deerfield. It was the only place he applied.

If it was good enough for Dick Sisson, it was good enough for him. Gary will tell you that, point blank.

While in seminary, Gary paid his tuition by doing various jazz gigs around Chicago.
The music never left him.

In the early 1990s, Gary accepted a call at the Galena Bible Church.

Upon moving to Galena, Gary heard about Hunter’s jazz quintet that played mostly in nursing homes and other local venues. He reached out to Hunter.

When a secretary told Hunter about a Rev. Gary Kirst who had called, Hunter simply said, “Oh, that’s Gary.”

Gary joined the quintet and later the big band when Hunter formed that band. Although their relationship is now one of 20-plus years, Gary is still amazed with Hunter’s musical abilities.
Hunter doesn’t go out and buy the music. He listens to the original 78s and transcribes the part for each instrument, for each musician.

If Gary were proofreading this, he’d say “Hunter painstakingly transcribes each part.” He’d also say that Hunter makes every effort to represent multiple facets of the big band era in the music which the band plays. 

“That makes it fun,” he adds.

Playing with the band is a good outlet, he continues.

“It’s fun. I enjoy playing with the guys. It’s a whole different group of people (than with whom he interacts everyday). I enjoy these friendships and would like to think I can be a good example of a Christian to other people who may not go to church. I feel I’m always a pastor and an encourager. It’s an outlet and it’s fun.”

Gary’s musical interests aren’t limited to this big band. “What I love to do is bee bop jazz from the Charlie Parker and Miles Davis era. That’s my cup of tea. And, I like combo jazz even more,” he adds.

For this night, Gary will put these interests to the side and make music with Hunter Fuerste and his American Vintage Orchestra. I hope you let your toes tap in appreciation of these wonderful musicians.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Fuerste and his orchestra return

Courtesy of Galena Gazette

GALENA–The ninth annual Galena Foundation concert featuring Hunter Fuerste and His American Vintage Orchestra will be held at Turner Hall in Galena on June 20 from 6-8 p.m. 

Fuerste, an accomplished arranger and trombonist, excels at taking vintage recordings of classic well-known big band performances and scoring music for his entire orchestra. 

Fuerste’s 14-piece big band, along with talented vocalists, will authentically recreate many mid-30s to mid-40s hits made famous by artists such as Glenn Miller, Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, Artie Shaw, Benny Goodman, Harry James, Count Basie and others.

This free concert is made possible because of the sponsorship of area businesses and individuals. 

Main floor and balcony general admission to the concert is free. However, donations are appreciated. 

For more information visit

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Council OKs Turner Hall agreement

by Hillary Dickerson, editor
Excerpts courtesy of Galena Gazette

GALENA–The city of Galena and the Galena Foundation now have an official agreement regarding the restoration work to be completed at Turner Hall, a city-owned property on Bench Street. 
After some wording concerns were raised at the Monday, May 11 city council meeting, the agreement was tabled until the agreement could be revised. 

But during the Tuesday, May 26 meeting, all council members–Todd Lincoln, Pam Bernstein, Jerry Westemeier, Bobby Hahn, Charles Fach and Jerry Kieffer–were ready to move forward with the projects. 

As part of the agreement, the Galena Foundation, working in cooperation with the trustees of the Joe Miller Trust at Illinois Bank & Trust, intend to commit several years of funds to the work at Turner Hall. “It is the intention of the Galena Foundation that it will take on 100 percent of the cost of this project and will not require the city of Galena to provide the normal 50 percent match of funds required in the foundation’s typical grants for historic preservation,” the agreement reads.
The work is estimated to cost approximately $180,000, including design and analysis, labor, materials, contingencies and fees. That amount includes completion of a Historic Structures Report, historic paint study, fly loft insulation and waterproofing engineering analysis, repair and waterproofing the rear stage wall, exterior balcony paint, a small roof over the side door, restroom updates, main floor refinishing, a locking gate to access the flyloft, upgrade of kitchen wiring, new roof on the kitchen, patch and paint exterior kitchen wall, flyloft insulation/waterproofing, exterior spot tuckpointing, dumpster enclosure, clean, repair and paint interior and replace stage floor. 
In the agreement, the city commits to the project and agrees to fund the project through its general fund or municipal borrowing with any debt repayment to come from the Galena Foundation and the Joe Miller Trust. 

The city agrees to hire Adam Johnson, a licensed architect, to prepare plans and specifications for the work. 

Cost for the architect will be paid by the Galena Foundation. 

If the city sells Turner Hall to a private party within five years of completion of the work, the city will return half the total cost of the project to the foundation, according ot the agreement. 
“The Galena Foundation will then re-invest these funds in another historic preservation project involving a not-for-profit entity in accordance with the foundation’s bylaws,” the agreement continues.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Kohlsaat Bridge Dedication

Galena Foundation's Ken Robb shakes hands with Rodger Shepard during the April 18 bridge dedication to Shepard's great grandfather Herman H. Kohlsaat while (from left) Galena City Councilman Charlie Fach, Galena Mayor Terry Renner and Galena-Jo Daviess County Historical Society Board President Steve Coats stand close by.

Kohlsaat, a once-resident of Galena, commissioned the "Peace in Union" painting in the museum and the Ulysses S. Grant statue in Grant Park. The bridge plaque was paid for the by Historical Society and the Galena Foundation, and the City of Galena installed it.

Katie Devereaux photo; Courtesy of the Galena Gazette

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Galena Foundation holds annual meeting

Excerpts courtesy of Galena Gazette

The Galena Foundation held its annual meeting on Wednesday, March 26 at the DeSoto House Hotel. Elected officers for the coming year were Charlie Marsden, president; Joe Nack, vice president; Jamie Loso, secretary; and David Wilmarth, treasurer. The Galena Foundation, as of Dec. 31, 2014, reported assets of $987,604. The Foundation has $817,585 in restricted funds, including $564,067 in its permanent endowment.

Carl and Marilyn Johnson received the Frank Einsweiler Award for
their preservation work in the community over the last 40-plus years.

Charlie Marsden, Galena Foundation president, welcomes Karen Greiner to the board of directors.

Paul Jackson is leaving the Foundation board and received this Carl Johnson print as a going-away gift. Jackson
led the Foundation's gazebo restoration project.