By Hillary Dickerson

Courtesy of Galena Gazette

GALENA–Most people who knew Joe Miller, an unassuming Gear Street resident who worked for decades at Galena’s Kraft plant and later the Dubuque Packing Company, never would have guessed that upon his death, Miller would leave a substantial gift, a trust with the sole purpose of funding historic preservation in the city he loved. 

But that’s exactly what he did. And his money continues to help with the preservation of some of Galena’s treasures. 

Upon his death at age 79 in March 2008, Miller’s trust was established and funds have been distributed for various projects each year through the Galena Foundation. 

The current project is the restoration and renovation of historic Turner Hall on Bench Street. 

In December, Kim Keuter of Illinois Bank & Trust, presented members of the city of Galena’s Turner Hall Committee, city officials and representatives of the Galena Foundation with the $34,368.94 distribution of the Joe Miller Trust funds for 2015. 

Members of the city of Galena’s Turner Hall Committee, city officials and representatives of the Galena Foundation gathered recently at Turner Hall for the distribution of the Joe Miller Trust funds for 2015. Presenting the check for $34,368.94 was Kim Keuter of Illinois Bank & Trust. From left: Pat Smith, Ken Robb, Janelle Keeffer, Mark Moran, Charles Marsden, Keuter, Adam Johnson and Paul Jackson.Hillary Dickerson photo

According to Charles Marsden, president of the Galena Foundation and chair of the city’s Turner Hall committee, the first Turner Hall phase of work benefited from $29,257.86 from the Joe Miller Trust, which is now paid in full. 

The first phase included window repair, re-glazing, and painting; repair and tuckpoint stone around all windows; storm windows on all windows; new exterior doors to match original, insulated and weather stripped; new fire escapes and sidewalks on north side of building; exterior balcony repair; temporary waterproofing at rear of stage. 

Additionally, funds from The Save Turner Hall Fund–$81,000–and city of Galena–$44,000–were also used for the first phase.

The second project received $5,111.08 as first payment of a four to five year program to do about $180,000 of work at Turner Hall, all with Joe Miller Trust funds, Marsden continued. 

The second phase work includes many items. 

Two of the projects benefited from grants funds. The interior lighting controls upgrade was made possible by funding from the city of Galena and Galena Foundation Hunter Fuerste Concert funds. The Historic Structures Report was completed, thanks in part to a grant from Landmarks Illinois, to justify renovation of facility according to national preservation guidelines and research original interior finishes. 

Additionally, other work done in 2015 included the rear stage wall reconstruction, waterproofing and tuckpointing. 

Other future projects in the second phase include exterior balcony painting, complete exterior cleaning, tuckpointing and sealing, small roof over south side door, main hall floor wood repair and total refinishing, new stage floor, minor restroom updates, kitchen wiring upgrade, new roof and insulation on kitchen, patch and paint exterior kitchen wall, exterior flyloft insulation and finish, complete refinishing and painting of building interior using historic colors determined from paint samples. 

The work yet to be completed will be bid in February 2016 and completed in 2016 and 2017.