Tuesday, January 17, 2012
General Overview of the Old Market House
The Old Market House was built by the city of Galena to serve as a city hall and enclosed public farmer's market. A rapid increase in population in the Galena area in the 1830s and 1840s, largely a result of the discovery of galena, a kind of lead ore found in the region, had led to a sharp increase in demand for local foodstuffs.
The Old Market House's business plan called for the US$50 per year rents from the twelve enclosed farmer's market stalls to help maintain the building. The $2,500 used for initial construction was obtained through the sale of $5 per share stocks, which was enabled by an 1845 act of the Galena City Council. Sellers who could not rent a stall were allocated space in the market square just outside the building
The Old Market House continued to serve the people of Galena until about 1910. As an increasing percentage of local citizens bought motor vehicles, households began to "shop around" for foodstuffs. Local grocery stores, which paid property taxes to the city of Galena, were not interested in helping to maintain their competitors. In about 1910 the stalls of the Old Market House went out of business.
The city of Galena moved its offices elsewhere in 1938, making the old building redundant. It was given to the state of Illinois in 1947.