Chicago, IL

Day trip Chicago: The oldest house in Illinois is nearly 200 years old

Jennifer Geer

The Dowling House in Galena is the oldest stone structure in Illinois. It's open for tours during the day, or take a ghost tour at night and learn all about its spooky history.

(CHICAGO) Galena is the perfect destination for a short summer road trip from Chicago. About three hours west of the city, Galena is a charming town full of attractions.

The small town is home to 19th-century architecture, unique shops, restaurants, and wineries. Galena also happens to have many historic buildings dating back to the 1800s. The oldest structure in the state can be found in Galena.

Built out of limestone in 1826, the Dowling House is the oldest house in Illinois.

History of the Dowling House

The house, constructed by John Dowling, originally housed a trading post on the first floor. It was the only trading post in the city for many years. The Dowling family resided on the second floor.

Is the Dowling House haunted?

Aside from being the oldest stone structure in Illinois, the Dowling House has been a source of many mysterious stories. Orbs of light and other paranormal sightings have been reported. If you'd like the full scoop, you can take a haunted tour with the Dowling After Dark Tour.

According to the Haunted Galena Tour Company,

"The Dowling House is an 1826 tour house by day...but we will take you inside at night, and go lights out to discover the spookier side of history!"

On the tour, learn the history of the Dowling family and the ghostly encounters surrounding the old building in the area. Tickets are $20 each for ages 12 and older.

Tour the Dowling House during the day

The house is open during the day for guided tours of a less spooky nature. Find more information on tours on the website. "Tour guides provide a complete history of the development of the City of Galena and Dowling House while you browse through quaint artifacts from the early nineteenth century."

Don't miss the Belvedere Mansion and Gardens

Tour the nearby Belvedere Mansion and Gardens, and you can get a discount ticket for tours of both the mansion and the Dowling House.

The magnificent Belvedere was built by J. Russell Jones in 1857. Jones was owner of the Chicago West Division Rail Company, and a close friend to President Abraham Lincoln.

The 22-room mansion was built in the Italianate style. The house is open to the public year round, and the gardens can be toured from mid-May through November.


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Jennifer covers lifestyle content and local news for the Chicago area.

Chicago, IL

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