THE MANDOLIN INN – HISTORY
A well-known architect named Fridolin Heer designed the Mandolin Inn. Mr. Heer was the architect of a large number of magnificent buildings in the Dubuque area. Some examples of his work are: the Dubuque County courthouse, Behr Funeral Home, Hoffman Funeral Home, and what is today called the Fanny Stout House.
This house was built in 1908 for Nicholas J. Schrup. Mr. Schrup was the son of a farmer who had emigrated from Luxembourg when Mr. Schrup was two years old. Nicholas Schrup went on to do many things over the course of his life. Among other things he was deputy city auditor; organized a very lucrative and successful Insurance company; was president of some 5 banks and began the American Trust Bank; was knighted by the King of Belgium for work that he did with refugees of World War I; and was an Iowa State Senator.
In 1884 Schrup married Mary Krauz of Chicago. They had four children; two daughters and two sons. The whole family lived in this house starting in 1908. In 1924 Nicholas J. Schrup died and his wife and two daughters (Rosalyn and Lillian) continued to live in the house. After Mrs. Schrup’s death in 1950 the children gave the house to the Archdiocese of Dubuque who used the house as a convent for the B.V.M. nuns (Blessed Virgin Mary Nuns) until 1972. At that point the Nuns sold the house and it became a halfway home for juvenile delinquent children. The property was then purchased by a law firm who used the first floor for their law practice and converted the 2nd, 3rd and basement floors into apartments for college students.
In 1988 the property was restored back to the way it had looked as a private home and has been operating as a Bed & Breakfast Inn ever since. The Inn established its name from the stained glass window on the staircase depicting St. Cecelia, the patron saint of musicians, carrying a mandolin. This is the only piece of stained glass (painted glass) in a private home in Dubuque. The artist that created this beautiful work of art placed one of the panels in upside down, much the same as the Amish do with quilts, or the Navaho Indians do with rugs and the Persians do with carpets. This is called a blessed error, as nothing is supposed to be perfect except God, or Yahweh or Allah. This stained glass becomes opaque at night and only the leaded glass Corinthian columns that surround the stained portion can be seen.
The style of the home is called “Edwardian”. King Edward was Queen Victoria’s son and the Edwardian period followed directly after the Victorian period. The Edwardian style is stall fancy, but not as fussy as the Victorian style. The lines are cleaner; some might even say masculine. The Edwardian style used considerably more wood and loved to make use of Corinthian columns (for example: hand-carved, polished granite columns outside, massive oak columns in grand entrance hall and 17 in dining room.)
This is one of the few homes built in this area around the turn of the century that has hard wood floors. (Most other homes have floors of the softwoods, like pine, as all of the hardwoods were supposed to be saved for use in the lead mines for mine shafts.) Each of the public rooms also has a different pattern of beautiful inlaid parquet.
DINING ROOM – the entire room is surrounded by an oil painting that was painted in Belgium for the house in 1908. Once completed, the canvas was shipped to Dubuque, and then applied to the wall with lacquer, just as though it were wallpaper. The sideboard is made of white oak and has never been re-finished. It has curved, leaded and beveled glass and a curved mirror that runs from the top of the sideboard down to its midpoint. The fireplace is made from tiger oak and green Italian tile.
GRAND ENTRANCE HALL – the sole purpose of this hall was to make a statement about Mr. Schrup – to let everyone know from the moment that they entered into the home just how rich, powerful and successful he was.
MUSIC ROOM and PARLOR – The painting on the wall of the Music Room is original. It was designed to frame a concert grand piano. When the home was built each wall panel in these two rooms had the same apple blossom and bird theme. This panel is the only one that they could restore. When the other panels could not be restored the ones in the Music Room were covered with white silk tapestry and the ones in the Parlor were covered with marbleized oil paintings. The ceilings of these two rooms have oil paintings on them, but unfortunately someone glued acoustical tile to them (probably to muffle the sounds from the bedrooms or apartments above) and it is very likely that the paintings were destroyed.
B & B History:
In 1988 Judi Sinclair (Fonz) began the restoration of the property. She returned the home to the way it had looked as a private home and opened it up as a Bed & Breakfast Inn. In 1991, Jan Oswald purchased the inn from Judi. Jan returned the public rooms of the inn to the décor, accoutrements, and furnishings of the Edwardian period. Each bedroom was christened with a name and decorated in a distinctive fashion that was appropriate to the time that the Schrup family lived in the home.
Amy Boynton purchased the inn in 1998. She had a high-velocity central air-conditioning system installed that maintained the integrity of this historic home. Amy’s primary focus has been on returning the exterior of the building to its former beauty and making the property handicapped accessible in a way that maintains its architectural integrity.
Amy restored the custom-made Spanish green clay tile roof and copper gutters and eave spouts in 1998 and 1999 (and again in 2012 after the hail storm of 2011.) In 2000 she had had the porch soffits restored and then went on to have the entire brick exterior restored. She had new double front staircases installed in that year and then added a handicapped accessible ramp/bridge to the home in the late summer/fall of 2000. Amy had the hand carved limestone front entrance and balustrades replaced with new hand carved limestone in 2000 – 2001. In 2001 Amy added a fishpond to soften the look of the handicapped bridge and make it appear less utilitarian. The house received the Main Street award for Design / Best Historic Rehab of 2000-2001.
Most recently Amy had a remodel completed that allowed for a handicapped accessible guestroom on the first floor and she made the carriage house into a handicapped accessible apartment/owner’s quarters which can now be accessed from both the house and from it’s own private entrance. The House received the Ken Kringle Historic Preservation Award from the City of Dubuque and The Historic Preservation Commission for the best adaptive use and rehabilitation for 2005. The steam boiler that heats the house was replaced in 2007 and half of the Central Air system was upgraded in 2011.