Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Galena Foundation elects officers

The Galena Foundation honored retiring director Joe Nack, elected Dan Kelly to the board and approved these officers: Charlie Marsden, president; Beth Baranski, vice president; Jamie Loso, secretary; and David Wilmarth, treasurer.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Galena Foundation honors Daryl Watson

Courtesy of Galena Gazette.

GALENA–In July 1978, fresh out of graduate school at the University of Illinois, Daryl Watson enrolled at the University of Galena. The rest is history, as the saying goes.

This past week, The Galena Foundation honored Watson for his community historic preservation work, presenting him with the Frank Einsweiler Award for historic preservation at its annual meeting on Wednesday, March 23 at Fried Green Tomatoes.

With typical Daryl Watson modesty, he quickly deflected the attention, “I wasn’t expecting it. I think there are a number of others more deserving. . .I am very appreciative,” he says.

Watson says he “loves” the idea of the award to honor citizens for their historic preservation efforts. And, it was especially important to him that there were so many people he’s known through the years in attendance.

“It was a great evening,” he said.

It seems especially fitting for Watson to receive an award named after a man who was elected Galena mayor four times and who made an indelible mark on the community. Einsweiler made an indelible mark upon Watson. He hired Watson, fresh out of graduate school, to serve as the city’s administrative assistant.

Since the late 1950s–when Einsweiler convinced community leaders to invite a University of Illinois team to Galena to study the city’s economic development potential–Einsweiler kept in touch with one of the professors, Fred Foster.

Through Foster, Einsweiler learned that Watson, who was thinking of a career in teaching, was finishing his doctorate. Watson says he graduated from UI and enrolled in the University of Galena. “Frank Einsweiler was the chancellor,” Watson chuckles.

Watson admits he did receive quite an education from Einsweiler. The mayor, born into a long-time Galena family in 1905, attended school here and then business school in Rockford before working at and managing a lumber yard in Freeport.

He came back in 1941 to purchase a lumber yard and threw his efforts behind flood control in the community. Later he started a construction company which built a number of area schools and dormitories at the University of Illinois.

“Frank had a tremendous knowledge of buildings from the bottom up. He knew what he was talking about. Sometimes he would sit down with a person and draw up plans. That was unique. And, he was really good at crunching numbers and knowing what would work.”

The course work at the University of Galena required Watson to wear a number of hats. “We were constantly working on something different,” he recalls. “I jumped right in. Frank was a strong mayor in every sense of the word. He delegated responsibility to me in ways he saw fit.

“That’s life outside the academic environment and I learned a lot of stuff. Being able to work with historic buildings, planning and preservation. . .was a huge plus.”

One of Watson’s big projects involved helping Einsweiler obtain grants for the restoration of the Coatsworth Building. “It took four grant applications before we had a successful one. Frank was the chief author.”

The pair also teamed up to write a grant for the pedestrian bridge connecting downtown to Grant Park. “Frank always had to look through the federal registry,” he said. One of those perusals came up with a gem: highway grant funding was available for amenities.

“We stayed up until 11:30 p.m., one night to get the grant done,” Watson notes. They submitted the grant application to the Illinois Department of Transportation office in Dixon. They didn’t know anything about such a grant so they called the Springfield headquarters. Springfield staff in turn called the United States Department of Transportation n Washington, D.C.

“We were the first in the area to get that type of money,” he noted. “Ultimately that has led to walking paths and better maintenance to the dike.”

Watson is especially appreciative of Einsweiler’s vision, which is part of his legacy. “Frank saw historic preservation as a way to improve economic prosperity in Galena. What does Galena have that no one else has? It was our tourism and architecture.”

Watson’s tenure with the city lasted six years. But, he didn’t stay away for long. In April 1987, Einsweiler asked him to work in Galena again, this time for a badly divided Galena Historical Society. Watson took over the reins with a new board and by the end of the year had nearly wiped out the museum’s $30,000 indebtedness. He also fondly recalls his “best achievement” during the 18 years he spent with the museum: writing a grant and working with city hall to move the blacksmith shop to its current location and then operate the facility as part of the museum’s programming.

“That worked out well and is now self-supporting. It’s a great visitor attraction,” he said.

Since then, Watson has taught part-time at Highland Community College and speaks to the Jo Daviess County Leadership Forum participants.

Through the years, Watson has worked with many organizations and activities including The Galena Foundation, city, Turner Hall. He helped with the interpretive signs on the levee, restoration of the cannons at Grant Park as well as attending numerous meeting about parking and wayfinding.

Charlie Marsden, Foundation president, notes that Watson is a very deserving recipient of the award. He noted, “Daryl is one of those gems of our community. A humble person who has excelled at whatever he set out to do. When asked to lead Galena through some difficult times, when preservation was virtually impossible, but so important, he rose to the occasion, leaving his mark on Galena forever.

“And he is still excelling. His recent work on the Historic Structures Report for Turner Hall is the best there is. And knowing Daryl, he will be making his contributions, whenever asked, for many years to come. It is so fitting that Daryl receives the award named after his good friend Frank Einsweiler.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Positive review for Galena Foundation book

Courtesy of Galena Gazette

GALENA–The recently published book “Galena, Illinois A Timeless Treasure” from The Galena Foundation has been cited as highly recommended by the Midwest Book Review ( in its March 2016 issue.

James A. Cox, the magazine’s editor-in-chief, writes that the book is “a must have for any Galena enthusiast. . .a model of regional history and highly recommended. . .would well serve as a template for similar histories of other American communities.”

Written by Philip A. Aleo, historian and author, the book is filled with archival photographs from the Alfred Mueller Historical Collection, recounts of personal stories and newspaper articles dating back to the 1820s and then and now photos of commercial and public buildings, residences, and churches.

The book is available now and may be purchased at many locations throughout Galena including Book World, Tammy’s Piggly Wiggly, La Vie en Rose, Galena & U.S. Grant Museum and Gateway to History Museum Store, U.S. Grant Home State Historic Site, Ink & Stamp with Sue, Galena Cellars Tasting Room, Galena Welcome Center at the Old Market Place, Amelia’s Galena Ghost Tours, Galena Gazette, Whispering Willow Gift Shop at Midwest Medical Center, the Apple River Fort in Elizabeth, the River Lights Bookstore and the National Mississippi River Museum in Dubuque.

Founded in 1982, The Galena Foundation is a non-profit organization of volunteers that funds the preservation and restoration of historic Galena buildings and cultural institutions. Recent foundation projects have included work at the Galena Train Depot, the Old Market House, and Turner Hall, with plans for work to begin in Grant Park this coming year.