South Course 1982: On-site review during construction of Eagle Ridge South Course. Golf Architect Roger Packard, Branigar President Rich Burke, and Vice President Planning Midwest Bob Farr meet with Bob Massey and Paul Eldredge from Wadworth Golf Construction Company.
Harvey Branigar, Jr. and Jim Reed (Branigar President 1971-1978)
GTA employee Clancy O'Houlahan fostered 13 children in The Galena Territory
Plans for 2023Thanks to the members of the 50th Anniversary Advisory Group, there are many reasons to get excited about this year. Specials at Chestnut Mountain Resort, a golf outing, a formal dinner/ dance and a family picnic too. Watch for more about events in the February Territory Times, on this page and at the Annual Meeting Feb. 25.
If you have memorabilia, photos, or a story idea, please email, stop in at the Administrative office Monday through Friday between 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. or call 815-777-2000 ext. 125.
50th Events & Specials
Feb. 26 $50 lift tickets with rental at Chestnut Mountain Resort
Property Owner Golf Outing at the North Course on July 8.
Golden Gala on July 22 in the ballroom at Eagle Ridge Resort.
A FREE family picnic at Lake Galena
The Branigar Organization developed many recreational second-home projects over the years, learning much from each.
Based on the success of these projects, Branigar began to think of future developments with more amenities. In anticipation of selling the last lots at Apple Canyon Lake, they started to look for another possible development. Branigar desired a larger, more complex
project with a lake as just one of the amenities.
Certain considerations had to be taken into account to create a lake, such as buried oil or gas lines, highways, railroad tracks or cemeteries. In other words, it must be open farmland with few existing roads and those able to be incorporated with the overall plan of development. If a lake is to be part of the plan, then there must be hills with a valley floor and places where the hills come together close enough to create a dam within practical cost considerations.
Bert Getz (Getz Corporation) owned a 4,800-acre cattle operation, which he sold to Branigar, and so began The Small Pox Creek project, named after the creek dammed to create the lake.
A map was hung in the first Branigar office, on the second level of the First National Bank of Galena, 115 Perry St., with possible areas to buy. Les Harber, Glen Sandberg, Monty Clark and Cliff Bowgren worked together to acquire land.
Some landowners were anxious to sell, some were open to discussion, some were not interested, and some openly opposed the idea.
The task then was to acquire enough land to make the project work. The acquisition began in 1970. In August 1971, Les Harber was named project manager. Then began a long process of seemingly unrelated threads to be slowly woven into what is now The Galena Territory. Branigar wanted a mix of amenities – horses, golf, tennis, water – a mix of single-family and multi-family housing, and a resort core.
The Jo Daviess County board, the planning board, the health department, and the township governments had to be convinced that this “big city developer” was trustworthy.
There was a segment of the county with an openly negative opinion. Residents liked their quiet, peaceful county and weren’t sure they wanted it to change.
Branigar acquired land in many ways – straight sales, land trades for property outside The Territory, and some with a life estate clause. One of these was the Richards’ farm on Guilford Road and Susquehanna Drive. The total amount of land acquired was 8,500 acres in two parcels, separated by a small tract of land. Branigar decided to use the west 6,500 acres to develop the project. The 2,000-acre “east tract” was sold in large parcels, which was never part of The Territory. In 1975, Branigar acquired a 300-acre farm adjacent to The Territory bringing the total project to 6,800 acres.
Deposits for the first lots began in the late fall of 1973. The site chosen for the entrance was the only property touching U.S. Highway 20 where a small farmhouse stood. The Information Center at the entrance of the development was a trailer for the first sales office.
Shenandoah Riding Center was the first amenity to be built because it was on an existing road, so construction could start without waiting for road development.
The Information Center (now the site of the General Golf Course) was next, followed by The Territory (Owners’) Club, the marina, the North Golf Course and pro shop, and Eagle Ridge Inn. “I remember clearly, the cliff-hanging feeling as the last piece was finally acquired; it was a vital, key piece at the bottom of the lake without which there would be no lake and possibly no project. It was a quiet celebration (or, should I say: ‘it was quite a celebration?’) at (the Harber) house since it was an accomplishment on which Les had worked very hard and of which he felt justly proud. In all, he and his acquisition staff acquired 22 farms to form what is now The Galena Territory.”
The Branigar Organization and The Galena TerritoryBy Richard Burke, Branigar President and CEO, 1978 to 1986
Branigar, The Galena Territory’s developer, was founded as a family-owned real estate development company in Chicago, Illinois, in 1918. Over the years, it developed approximately 80 residential communities, mostly in Chicago’s western suburbs.
About these Chicago suburban projects: they tended to be built on cleared farm fields; their amenities were modest, mostly greenways; they were all sufficiently close for prospects to “drive out on a Sunday afternoon” to visit; and they all reflected Branigar’s founding philosophy:
“Let us always strive to protect and preserve natural splendor for generations to come, and develop homesites of lasting and increasing value, quality and beauty. To be successful, a land company must care about people, families and their way of life.” (Harvey Branigar, Sr. 1874-1953)
“Where others were uprooting trees, (my father) was planting them.” (Harvey Branigar, Jr. 1913-1993)
In 1969, Branigar became a wholly owned subsidiary of Union Camp Corporation. Union Camp was ranked in the top half of the country’s 500-largest industrial corporations and was consistently recognized as one of the best managed paper companies in the nation.
The acquisition strengthened Branigar greatly, allowing it to undertake larger, more complicated projects, most notably The Galena Territory and The Landings on Skidaway Island, a 4,500-acre primary and retirement housing community near Savannah, Georgia.
The basis for starting projects like The Galena Territory was the phenomenal growth of the second home industry during the 1960’s and 70’s.
But from inception, The Galena Territory was envisioned as a recreational, second-home development significantly more up-scale than any of several previous second home lake projects undertaken by The Branigar Organization.
From this vision flowed a series of important decisions related to the project’s physical development and financial characteristics. For example, Galena’s master plan professionally balanced environmental sensitivity with lot yield objectives. Detailed attention was paid to the design and construction of homeowner buildings. The quality and comprehensiveness of the amenity package greatly exceeded those of prior projects. While at 6,800 acres, the sheer physical size of The Galena Territory dwarfed previous lake projects.
In line with this unique quality direction, it was always recognized that The Galena Territory would require a similarly unique marketing approach. With lot prices initially averaging $13,000 and with minimum housing costs exceeding $40,000, it was imperative to adopt a style of marketing that appealed to higher income consumers - - an audience known to be resistant to the mass-marketing, “free-offer” techniques that had successfully sold other lake communities and had been used at The Galena Territory prior to 1976, when I joined The Branigar Organization as Vice President - Marketing.
Additionally, it was anticipated that “build-out” would be significantly more important at The Territory than it had been at previous projects since the scale of The Territory’s amenity package required a sizable population base to be financially viable.
Accordingly, The Galena Territory’s planning documents consistently alluded to the development of some form of “attraction” that would: (1) give The Territory a unique superiority edge in the minds of people looking for property; (2) encourage those not actively seeking land to sample the benefits of ownership while concurrently supporting the amenity package; and (3) deliver qualified prospects at reduced marketing costs.
But by 1975, with the Territory now two years old, that “attraction” had yet to be settled on. The information center, riding center, and the original owners’ club were up and running, the lake was nearing completion and land was being cleared for the golf course. But feasibility studies were just beginning to consider Eagle Ridge Inn as the much-needed “attraction.”
Meanwhile, in the late 1970’s, the second home industry collapsed.
In building The Territory, Branigar expected to benefit from the surging demand for second home lot communities, as it had at each of the lake communities it had built prior to The Galena Territory, including Apple Canyon Lake. During the late 1970’s and early 80’s, however, the second home lot industry virtually collapsed. (And in essence, it was replaced by the timeshare industry.) Consumers who had previously rationalized purchasing recreational lots through unquestioned confidence in the investment potential of all real estate, were quickly disillusioned by gasoline shortages, spiraling inflation, two recessions and the frank realization that constructing a second home on their lot was unaffordable, while selling that lot, even at a loss, was extremely difficult.
Given this profound industry change, most second home lot communities went out of business. Among the survivors were those whose climate or location made them viable retirement communities; those that were located near major natural amenities (oceans, mountains, etc.); and those that, lacking both retirement potential and major natural attractions, offered an artificially created, successful resort.
Eagle Ridge Inn Saves the Territory
The Galena Territory fell into the third category, and it was the success of Eagle Ridge Resort that sustained purchaser interest and supported a viable housing construction, sales and rental operation through sell-out of the remaining lots.
I wrote the recommendation to construct Eagle Ridge Inn in July of 1977, a year after joining the company, and it was promptly approved by Branigar’s Board of Directors and by Union Camp.
Eagle Ridge Inn essentially saved The Galena Territory:
1. It yielded a positive cash flow from its own operations;
2. It enabled us to eventually sell the complete amenity package and recover the sizable investment it had required to build it;
3. It supported needed increases in lot pricing;
4. It enabled us to sell a greater number of cluster and multi-family lots;
5. It enabled us to substantially reduce our selling costs and importantly;
6. It has provided a continuing stream of prospects for “resale” properties throughout the years after Branigar completed the project and discontinued its substantial “prospect generating” marketing programs. This last has remained a major benefit to existing owners.
Housing in The Territory … a slow start and a boost from the Inn
Branigar was never in the “home building” business, except a few times at The Landings to illustrate a style of architecture that was mandated.
But as noted earlier, homes, with people living in them, were vital to the support of The Territory’s extensive and expensive amenities. It was for this reason that Branigar started building vacation homes there right from its opening.
The earliest homes were all “modular” houses, pre-built by their manufacturers and “assembled” on site - - exclusively in the areas of the community where central water was available, but septic tanks were needed for sewage. The first was a “pedestal house” manufactured by Bartoli & Brady, which we named “The Ridgetopper.” A much greater variety of homes - - from small to very large and expensive - - was offered by a firm called “Acorn Deck House Company” and Branigar built a number of these homes throughout The Territory.
But demand was small and no spec builders rushed in to add to our stock of offerings.
The reason was clear and concerning: analysis of our buyers revealed that a sizable number still fell below our financial target, with 52% earning less than $25,000 per year and 39% living in primary homes with values equal to or less than the minimum cost of a Territory home.
Enter Eagle Ridge Inn, which attracted a more affluent buyer and which offered a robust home rental opportunity.
Homes were made possible by the construction of a central water and sewage facility that served a roughly 650-acre area around the Inn and golf courses and which we referred to as the Resort Village. Without central sewer we could not have built cluster units or townhouses or any type of attached or multi-story homes.
The first cottages to be built were the Settlement Cottages and while specifically designed for The Galena Territory, their character drew heavily from Colonial Williamsburg where I had spent my first year in the Army at Fort Eustis.
The inspiration for the Aspen Cottages was a family ski trip that I took to Aspen. The goal was to replicate the size and success of the Settlement Cottages, but with a fresh front exterior look.
Over time, Branigar built a diversity of choices: Eagle Ridge Townhomes, Settlement Cottages, Aspen Cottages, Farmstead Houses, Spring Creek Golf Villas, and Long Bay Point Lakehomes. Both the Settlement Cottages and the Farmstead Homes went on to win national Merit Awards from Builder Magazine. While all these housing types offered a variety of sizes, the essential fact was that they began with units as small as 800 sq. ft., thus reducing cost and increasing affordability!
The strategy worked, and by 1986, when I turned over the helm of The Branigar Organization, the company was out of the home building business as property owners and local builders moved in to energize a construction boom, with 111 construction permits being issued that year.
At a recent reunion of Branigar employees, I described The Galena Territory as being “like the child you always worried about who goes on to accomplish great things as an adult.” The Territory: 6800 acres, 3300 lots, population of 3600 people. Eagle Ridge Inn: 4-Star rating, 80 rooms; 390 homes in the rental program. And 63 holes of golf, rated among the top 100 public courses by Golf Digest. Hard not to be proud of all that.
Download Richard Burke article
The Vanished Town of Averyby Kayla Cunningham, August 2013
Earlier this summer, drivers at the intersection of Brodrecht and Longhollow Roads might have been surprised to see a yellow backhoe across the road. They would have been even more surprised to learn that it was being used for an archeological excavation.
As part of the state requirement for rebuilding the intersection bridge that flooded out in 2011, the Illinois State Archeological Survey (ISAS) began the dig to discover any historic sites or artifacts. As of the writing of this article, ISAS found the foundations of a house, an outhouse, a possible well, and pieces of household items that are believed to have been part of the former township of Avery.
Avery began as a homestead belonging to its namesake family. The family, headed by Elias Avery, had left their home in New York in 1816 and traveled by wagon, raft and keelboat across the Midwest, facing numerous perils along the way including frigid winters, the threat of robbery and even massacre from their Native American neighbors. Finally, in 182 7, the Avery family settled in Guilford Township and began their farm.
The farm expanded and its main house (known as the "white house" by family members) became a stagecoach stop on the Peoria-Galena stagecoach line, complete with its own post office, school and possibly a tavern ( which Elias' grandson, George Avery, claimed resulted in his strict sobriety). Visitors today will notice the sign "Coach Road" along Longhollow Road, named for this and other stagecoach stops along the way. Over the course of its existence, the white house played host to a variety of guests, including travelers, Native Americans, General Winfield Scott, and the future president of the United States, Ulysses S. Grant. The area eventually became a fully-fledged township in 1853.
The Averys were a civic-minded family. Elias' son William, for example, served as Avery's first _postmaster and tax collector. He later served as Galena's postmaster for 10 years. Likewise, the aforementioned George, a farmer, served as an officer in the U.S. Civil War.
The reason for the town's decline is unclear. A popular theory holds that the larger city of Galena became the more popular destination. Another theory contends that George's wife preferred to live in a more populated area, so they sold the farm and moved the family to Galena. Regardless, the Avery post office was officially shut down in 1904 and the "white house" was torn down in 1960.
Letter from Branigar president(reprint from December 1980 Territory Times)
Dear Territory Owner:
On Nov. 15th, your Property Owners Association held a special meeting at The Territory Club in Galena. The agenda included a presentation by Branigar on its plans for future development and I was pleased to come from Savannah, GA. to personally speak on the subject. While I visit Galena frequently, I rarely get to meet and talk with individual property owners, so this particular trip was especially enjoyable for me.
In my presentation, I talked about the challenge of planning and creating a beautiful community like Galena. In particular, I reviewed the results we've been able to achieve so far; our thoughts about what will happen in the future; and how we feel townhomes, the Inn, the rental program and the lake shoreline fit into those plans. Those who were able to attend the meeting (and I would guess there were 300 or more) seemed to appreciate this peek at the future and I know I appreciated the strong support they expressed for Branigar and the many kind remarks that were extended to me, personally, at the end of the meeting.
One criticism that did come our way was the lack of communication with the property owners and I was urged to share my presentation in letter form with those who were unable to attend. I accept that criticism as valid and offer this letter as a first step toward doing a better job of communicating in the future.
In opening my remarks, I shared some general thoughts on the size of the development challenge at Galena and the types of pitfalls that await communities that are poorly planned, over-structured, or under-financed. It's not news that The Galena Territory is physically big. There are 6,600 acres, a man-made lake, extensive recreational facilities, underground utilities and ultimately, 60 miles of roads. What does surprise people is the TIME it takes to plan and construct a community this large. We began in 1970, we'll be at it through 1987, and individual property owners will be building through the year 2000! To successfully traverse a 20 to 30-year period like this, you've got to start with a good plan, establish rules to protect the future character of the community, yet still leave yourself and your property owners the flexibility they need to deal with unforeseen events.
Naturally, Galena is not the only recreational community in the midwest to face this challenge. But we sincerely believe that you, your Property Owner Board and Branigar have handled it the best. If you've had the occasion to visit other Wisconsin and Illinois recreational communities, you'll quickly agree that the record is spotty. Some, like Lake Summerset, Lake Camelot or Legend Lake were completed, but are undistinguished in comparison to the beauty, quality and appeal of Galena. Others, like Lake Carroll, The New Landing For The Delta Queen or the Lake of The Menominee, fell on financial or technical problems that ultimately disappointed their developers and owners alike.
Against this background stands Galena: it has the most beautiful property, the most complete recreational facilities, the highest quality of development and architecture and an unprecedented record of financial strength. All of its amenities were constructed in a timely fashion and we have been able to continue sales, development and services through both good economic times and bad. It's a record Branigar is proud of. And when it's coupled with the people who have bought there and the quality homes they have built, Galena compares favorably with the very best recreational communities in the nation.
Given this background, my remarks turned to future development and, in particular, to answering six broad questions:
I. Will Branigar meet its development promises?
2. How many homes will there be at The Territory?
3. How do townhomes fit in?
4. What about the rental program?
5. What are the plans for Eagle Ridge Inn?
6. What are the plans for the lakeshore?
In addressing each of these questions, the single most important thing that I can say is that our future efforts won't differ from what we have been saying about The Territory from the first day it opened. The first document we wrote at Galena was a careful outline of all our development thoughts, called "The General Plan of Development." This, in turn, is supported by a comprehensive HUD Property Report. Both documents describe The Territory as a residential/ resort community and provide all the property owners with a variety of important protections, including a limit on the number of homes that can be built; the assurance that townhomes will be restricted to designated areas; the establishment of greenbelts throughout The Territory and along significant portions of the lake shore; —the dedication of roads to the Township; and the exclusive right of "property owners only" to use the marina and The Territory Club facilities.
These guarantees will not change. Beyond them, however, I offered some additional thoughts on each of the six questions:
1. Will Branigar meet its development promises?
Yes. And perhaps even more assuring, the vast majority have already been met. When you bought at The Territory, the specific homesite improvements we promised were roads, central water, electric power and telephone. These improvements are 100% complete in areas where homesites were sold prior to 1979, and are well underway in the newer plats. Similarly, the specific recreational facilities that were promised, including the lake, the marina, the stables, the Territory office, lounge, pool and gym, the playground, the tennis courts, the playfield and the ice-skating area, are all 100% complete. —Beyond these facilities, Branigar has added the Eagle Ridge Inn, a golf pro shop, a pro shop restaurant, an 18-hole championship golf course, an indoor/outdoor pool and additional tennis courts. These, incidentally, were not originally promised, yet all were constructed in a timely fashion and at the highest levels of quality.
2. How many homes will there be in The Territory?
We designed Galena to accommodate one home per acre, or a total of 6,600 by the time the community was complete. For perspective, this compares with an average of slightly over one home per acre for other midwest recreational communities, and of nearly one and a half homes per acre for quality second home communities like Kiawah Island, Amelia Island, and Sea Pines on Hilton Head, each of which is nationally recognized for excellence.
Through the years, we have gradually reduced this number so that we now expect approximately 3,600 homes, only half the number originally projected.
Importantly, this 3,600 target includes all types of homes that will be built and consists overwhelmingly of the large lot, single-family homes that most of you have purchased.
|Type of Homes Planned||Approx. No. of Homes||% of Total|
|Single family, on septic||3,050||85%|
|Single family, on sewer||200||5%|
|Townhomes, on sewer||350||10%|
While modest fluctuations in the numbers may occur as detailed planning is completed on the 2,000 acres currently unplatted, Galena will remain among the least crowded recreational communities in the nation.
3. How do townhomes fit in?
The "General Plan of Development" that we have been using since 1972 announced that townhomes would be built in specially designated areas. During 1980 the first such area was chosen and nineteen townhomes were constructed. Of these, two were held for models and 17 were sold. All the same care in architecture, siting, tree preservation, landscaping and construction quality that Branigar is noted for was applied to these homes and I believe those of you who have seen them would agree they are a handsome addition to the community. But beyond aesthetics, a number of facts are worth noting about townhomes. Possibly most important, they won’t add to the crowding at Galena. As I mentioned earlier, townhomes will represent only a small percentage of the total number of homes at Galena and will simply replace an equivalent number of single-family homes that would otherwise be built. Galena's total density will approximate 3,600 homes, including the townhomes.
Further, we plan to keep all townhomes in the general area of the Inn and the 18 holes of golf. Here they will not intrude on single-family homes and will be softened by the large number of acres devoted to golf and greenways. For example, the number of acres in the areas where we plan townhomes totals 680, so the average density of the townhomes will be no greater than the original plan for the entire community!
|Townhomes||Single Family Clusters||Total Homes||Of Acres||Density Per Acre|
And finally, there is the very important fact that townhomes meet a valid purchaser need. They are sold to people just like you—future members of your Property Owners Association. These people are attracted by the townhome's smaller size, and are seeking the freedom from landscaping and exterior maintenance chores that townhomes offer. In all other respects, they value the same things you do at Galena. Indeed, seven of the seventeen townhomes sold were purchased by people who already were Territory lot owners.
4. What about the rental program?
There are three fundamental things that can be said about the rental program. First, rental programs are universally typical of second-home communities with or without resorts. I'm not personally aware of an exception to this rule and certainly it was the case at Galena since 1974 when the first Ridgetoppers were built in Shenandoah Unit 6.
Second, it's generally the homeowners, themselves, that want and benefit from them. As you know, depending on your personal situation, rental homes can offer rental income and desirable tax shelter opportunities. This has encouraged owners to rent whether they are in a planned community like Galena or simply have a little cabin by the lake in northern Wisconsin.
And third, rental homes had a relatively minor impact on amenity usage at Galena. For example, during 1980 there were an average of only 37 homes in Galena's rental program. These, in turn, were occupied a total of 3,372 nights. That's like having only 9 more permanent residents at The Territory-a very small number compared to the 6,600 homes for which it was planned.
Even more interesting is a look at who used the homes on these nights. Our records show that 23% of the usage went to the owners themselves, another 15% went to ·other Territory lot owners who had not yet built homes of their own; and 21% went to our sales guests, visiting the property much as you did prior to your purchase. That left just 1,378 nights to resort guests-a peak weekend equivalent of 15 homes and an annual equivalent of just 4 homes. All of this is not to say that you haven't seen some people at The Territory Club or at the marina who are not entitled to be there. But that's an enforcement challenge, not a policy issue or a rental problem. We want unauthorized people out of those facilities as much as you do and will be happy to work with your Board in finding ways to accomplish that objective. For perspective, however, the source of that unauthorized usage is more likely drive-in traffic than overnight use of the rental homes or the Inn.
5. What are the plans for Eagle Ridge Inn?
The Eagle Ridge Inn is a magnificent facility and I think we are all agreed that it's a beautiful addition to the community. The question that is usually asked is whether it will lead to “over-commercialization” of The Territory. We sincerely believe that it won't. This is true for two very practical reasons. The first is one of scale: we currently have 31 rooms .and hope to add 36 more during 1981. (For interest, they will be in the same style and in the same location as the current facility.) But even if it were expanded further, the total number of rooms would be extremely modest compared to the total number of homes that the community was designed to accommodate. Additionally, as with the rental program, a sizeable number of the resort’s overnight guests are property owners who have not yet built, thus further reducing the "outsider" use.
And second, we have taken many steps to minimize the impact of these guests on The Territory: most are attracted by the golf course; we provided them with separate pool and tennis facilities; we've prohibited them from The Territory Club and we agree that only those with room keys should be permitted to rent boats at the marina. (Although, as mentioned earlier, some additional enforcement effort is needed here.)
Offsetting this modest intrusion, the resort has three very positive impacts on you and the community as a whole. First, it gives you a magnificent amenity that would not be financially feasible without outside help. Second, it has increased the reputation and status of Galena and unquestionably had a favorable impact on your property values. And third, the resort is an important mechanism that will continue to generate the public awareness and exposure to The Territory that is necessary to sustain normal levels of home and lot resale activity after Branigar stops its marketing efforts.
6. What are the plans for the lakeshore?
It has always been our objective to preserve significant portions of the lake shore as greenbelt and I know you will not be disappointed in this regard. As can be seen in the table below, approximately six and one-half miles of shoreline have already been platted with the major shoreline development consisting of the property owner's marina and beaches. Off-setting that modest intrusion is the fact that 94% of the platted property has been dedicated as permanent greenbelt.
|Shoreline Development||# of miles||% of total|
|Marina and beaches||0.3||5%|
|Resort and 8th hole||0.1||1%|
|Total to date||6.5||100%|
Approximately one mile of shoreline remains to be platted. Our current plans call for a combination of townhomes and single-family homes on the ridges but there are no plans to develop any of the actual shoreline along this mile.
Finally, we plan a small dock immediately in front of the Inn. (Its space is included in the 0. 1 figure in the table.) While the plans are not complete, the design objective calls for a small facility capable of storing 6 to 8 boats and providing 4 or so tie-ups for property owners visiting the Inn. Use of this dock will be limited to overnight resort guests and the boat rental franchise has been offered to the property owners should they wish to run it as a branch of the existing marina rental operation.
At this point, my formal presentation was complete and while I responded to a variety of questions from the floor, they often sought simple clarifications that I have attempted to include in this letter version.
Naturally, it is my hope that this letter has answered any important questions that may have been on your mind as well. But if I've missed one, I urge you to contact your Property Owner Board or Les Harber or myself for the information you need. Galena has a great story to tell and we're always pleased to share it with you.
ln closing, let me thank you for patiently hearing our thoughts, wish you and your family a joyous holiday season, and again apologize for our prior shortcomings in communication. In addition to our record of meeting development promises, I believe Branigar has a well-founded reputation of consistently dealing in good faith with its property owners and with their elected Boards of Directors. We hope you agree with this assessment and that we will continue to merit your confidence and support in the future.
Richard H. Burke, President
A realtor’s perspective: Terry HeimLocal Realtor Terry Heim began his career with the Branigar Organization in 1975. He was just back from the U.S. Army and applied for a “seasonal” job as a pontoon driver on the newly formed and not completely filled Lake Galena. Little did he know that he would soon find himself in sales for Branigar, which would lead to a lifetime of real estate.
A Galena native, Heim thought he would transition from military police into a civilian police force. “But Branigar stepped in and I haven’t looked back,” Heim said.
He has owned several homes in The Galena Territory and now works with one of his sons, Damon, at their real estate company, Coldwell Banker Network Realty, on Main Street in Galena.
His wife, Beth Ann, kids, Damon, Aaron, Christian and Kirsten, all worked for Eagle Ridge at some point. His grandchildren, Landon and Lila, enjoy the amenities in The Territory too.
Selling a dream
As if it were yesterday, Heim began with his pitch, “Branigar was formed in 1918. In 1969 it became Union Camp which eventually became International Paper.” Then he laughed, “I wonder how many times I said that part?”
By the time Heim and the other salesmen met potential buyers, they had met with members of the Branigar team in Chicago so they were already interested. “Or some just walked in the door. But that didn’t happen as often.”
Real estate was sold out of the Information Center where The General, Highlands Restaurant and Lounge 289 are today. The group was busiest on the weekends, of course.
“It was a great group of people we worked with. A tight-knit group,” Heim said of Branigar.
Each tour went through all the amenities and more.
“First, we went to the riding center to see the horses. We walked through all the stalls. Then we went to the Ridgetoppers. They were the minimum square foot homes. They were pretty modern and in a great setting. Then we went through the Owners’ Club. We walked through all the buildings we had. Then we went down to the lake and took a boat ride. In those days, Branigar had 50-horse motors. And the pontoons were larger too. I’d take them to the middle of the lake and turn the motor off just to listen. It was so quiet. That’s what we sold in those days. Getting away from it all. You could see all the way to the bottom. It was clear and beautiful. People loved it.”
He said there were blue stakes 6-8 feet above the water line, showing where the water would fill in eventually.
Heim explained that the salesmen had radios, “We each were assigned a number and we would call back to the office and ask if a specific lot had been sold. We could tell Ann Johnson to pull the ticket so no one else could claim the lot before the paperwork was complete with your buyer.”
“In the beginning, they were mostly buying lots, some had plans to build, mostly summer vacation homes, you know.”
“I was a lucky man,” Heim said. “I got to see The Territory as it evolved. I really love what I do.”
More about Terry Heim soon!