This tour starts on the hilltops that are part of the West 11th Historic District and then works its way to downtown. It takes 2 to 2 ½ hours. The hilltops do not have metered parking, whereas the downtown streets do, so you might want to leave your car on the hill and walk back to it at the end of the tour.
Start at the corner of 11th and Prairie Streets. Local lore has Amelia Earhart spending a night at 596 W 11th in the 1930’s.
#1. 1295 (O) + 1209 Prairie Street (O, P)
The exact building date of 1295 Prairie Street is not known, but some city records give the date as 1871. However, it is likely that Susan Lawrence, who owned the property since 1856, built the house before then. Gideon T. Stewart, proprietor of the Daily Times, bought the property in 1863 and city directories of the time note him living “on the bluff” and “on McDaniel’s Hill”. Former owners believed that the home was designed by A.O. Holland, based on similarities to the home he designed at 1298 Mount Pleasant Street. In 1880, James Wallis, wholesaler of dry goods and notions, purchased the house as a wedding present for his son and daughter-in-law, John W. and Mary Burton Wallis. The home remained in the Wallis family until 1947 and is still referred to as the Wallis home. Major additions took place in 1880, 1899, 1900, 1904, and 1910. The library ceiling and adjoining staircase wall have murals executed by Danish artist August Rasmussen around 1900. Roger and Paula Stenlund purchased the home in 1982 and spend the next 18 years restoring and remodeling it. They added a double garage in 1991 and a family room/sunroom two years later. The current owners have lived there since 2002.
The central, square unit of 1209 Prairie Street with symmetrical windows, central entrance hall, massive columns, and low pitched roof are examples of the Federal style and was built around 1856 by H.S. Hetherington, one-time mayor. He purchased the land from Alfred McDaniel, who developed most of this area of Dubuque. The two story wing was added in 1869 and the sunporch in 1914. Prominent Dubuquer P.W. Crawford owned the home early in the 20th century. For 75 years, the McDonald family occupied the home. A.Y. McDonald established a manufacturing company after the Civil War and invented the monkey wrench and other tools for which he held patents.
A native of Kentucky, Alfred McDaniel came to Dubuque in 1836 and immediately began to speculate in real estate. McDaniel eventually owned most of the land west of Main Street between 8th and 14th street, which he subdivided into building lots in 1853. McDaniel’s subdivision today comprises the heart of the West 11th Street Historic District. Other socially and economically prominent Dubuque landowners associated with the development of the West 11th neighborhood include Jesse P. Farley, Henry S. Hetherington, and the first F.E. Bissell
Take a right on Arlington. When you get to the intersection with Dell, on your right side will be Avon Park, one of the smallest parks in the City. Continue East on Arlington until you get to
#2. Highland Place. As you walk up Highland Place, you will pass many different architectural styles.
(P) 1245 Highland Place, a cross-gabled roofline with paired eve brackets indicate a later version of the Italianate style. The wrap porch has delicate turned columns supported by flattened arches and a fanlight caps the entrance door.
1209 Highland Place is an example of Palladian architecture. Andrea Palladio was an Italian architect during the 1500’s. The Palladian style, which was named after him, adheres to classical principles taken from Roman architecture. Palladianism became popular in the UK and other northern European countries starting in the mid-1600’s. Later, Palladian architecture became popular in the U.S., most notably in the buildings designed by President Thomas Jefferson.
1175 Highland Place is similar to houses built in the South where the kitchen and workspace were housed in the stone basement with living quarters on floors above where a cool summer breeze might enter. Wrap-around porches and outside staircases are also indicative of this southern version of the Georgian Revival style, which was based on Greek architecture.
1163 Highland Place is an eclectic mixture of styles, including a wrap-around porch with Doric columns, stone window eyebrows, a round window in the peak of the gable and Italianate treatment of the brackets in the eaves.
(P) 1125-33 Highland Place possesses characteristics of both Italian Villa and Queen Anne styles in its bracketed eaves, arched window, and both angular and round bays.
After Charles T. Hancock and his wife divorced in 1911, Charles lived with his mother in a Second Empire house (similar to the one standing behind the site on 11th street today) at 1105 Highland Terrace until his death in 1912. Charles’s will revealed that he owned his mother’s property, as well as several lots in the Dubuque Harbor Improvement Company and some two hundred and forty acres of land in Copiah County, Mississippi. Shortly thereafter, Dr. John Hancock, a brother, built the current house (O) in the Spanish International Style. The foundation of Mrs. Hancock’s Second Empire house was utilized and rock walls used in the terraces were also taken from the original structure. The low-pitched roof with red tile and exposed rafters, the arched entrance and the stucco siding are typical of the Spanish International style, which is less exuberant than the Spanish Mission style found in the Southwest U.S. The lights on the front porch were brought back from Florence, Italy, by Dr. Hancock.
From here you can take the West 11th street steps down a level to Grove Terrace. Midway down you will come to a sitting area, which commemorates the 11th street elevator.
#3. Eleventh Street Steps (formerly Elevator)
After the success of the 4th Street Elevator, the 11th street elevator was constructed in 1888, at a cost of $5,000, despite an effort by some of the nearby residents to seek an injunction against its construction. The original double-track elevator rose to the top of the bluff, and then leveled off. An elaborate pagoda decorated with Chinese lanterns originally stood at the summit. Passengers could ascend the elevator from Bluff Street for 3 cents or descent from Highland Place for 2 cents. When the elevator was later rebuilt using one continuous grade, it cut through the stone retaining wall parallel to Bluff Street that is still there today. Horses and wagons and pedestrians were able to pass under the elevator on Grove Terrace. The elevator was electrified in 1900, but it was never as successful as the Fourth Street elevator and was torn down in 1929 and replaced by the curvy top of 11th street there today.
Continue down the West 11th steps to
#4. (N, P) Charles T. Hancock House (1105 Grove Terrace).
This home was built in 1889-90 by Charles Hancock, third son of John T. Hancock and successor to his father at the profitable wholesale grocery firm of John T. Hancock and Sons. Hancock’s house is one of the purest examples of the Queen Anne style you will see on this tour, not because of the high, cross-gabled roof, tower, or wrap-around porch, but because of its different wall textures achieved by wooden shingles in the gables, under the eaves, and on the tower and some of the second story walls. Frank D. Hyde, who received his architectural training in Minneapolis/St.Paul and Chicago before living in Dubuque for 12 years, designed the home. In 1907-9, Hancock added the south wing, the Porte Cochere and the double underground garage on the street below the house and extended the porch, but the several non-Hancock owners since 1913 have made no major alterations. Central vacuum and alarm systems, coordinated with the servant communication system, were installed in 1890 and remain usable today. A number of different woods were used in the interior, which features an imposing oak staircase with seven landings rising from the huge foyer to the third floor. An unusual triangulated fireplace that vents into one chimney serves the southeast parlor, library, and dining room and there are nine other fireplaces (the kitchen’s is now closed) in the house. Hancock was a member of the Board of Trustees for St. Luke’s United Methodist Church (site # 68) and served on the building committee that was responsible for the present church structure. He was also a popular sportsman, especially of horse racing, and succeeded his father on the board of the Linwood Cemetery Association. Hancock served as chair of the County, and then the State, Republican Party Central Committee, and as such was in attendance at the laying of the cornerstone of the State Historical Building in Des Moines in 1899. Mr. Hancock deeded this house to Mrs. Hancock for $1.00 prior to their divorce in 1911. She continued to live in the property until 1913.
If you stand on the overlook that the 11th Street steps pass under, you can look down Grove Terrace to some other notable houses. Marshall Walker, distributor of oil, grain, and fruit throughout the Midwest built 1155 Grove Terrace in 1885. The Walkers were also active in social and civic endeavors. A vernacular home with elements of the Queen Anne and Stick styles, the Walker House still retains its stained glass windows and cherry and oak parquet flooring.
(P) 1203 Grove Terrace was built by Major William Henry Day, the owner of Standard Lumber Company, a vast lumber business located along the river (see site # 77). Another Queen Anne, this house also has a simple Palladian window under the north dormer. Day built the house with his first wife, with whom he had a son, Harry Jr. After his first wife died, Day married a woman from New York, whose sister also settled in the neighborhood. After his second wife died, Day hired an investigator to track down his high school sweetheart, who then became his third wife. After Day himself died, Harry Jr. lived in the house.
(P) 1207 Grove Terrace is a Gothic Revival home built in 1857 and designed by Dubuque Architect J.F. Rague (see list before site #67). Gothic Revival was referred to in England as rural cottage style since the broad porches did not lend themselves to narrow urban lots. In 1889, B.M. Harger, local book and stationary storeowner, remodeled the residence. The dining room and kitchen on the west end were a later addition. Steep gables with lacy bargeboards and finials, flattened arches between the slender columns of the wrap-around porch and second story outlook porch are all Gothic Revival elements
(O) 1245 Grove Terrace was originally the first floor of a three story eclectic home built in 1895 by the grandfather of children’s author Marion Hurd McNeely. The space was intended to be a ballroom but was not complete when Louis G. Hurd, dean of the Dubuque County Bar, died in 1929. John Walburn, who owned the home in 1932, removed the top two stories and had the original roof placed on the first story. The surplus wood was used to build a house on Mullen Street. The home originally had a huge lead water tank in the attic, which filled from a well at the back of the home. When the present owners tore up an old deck, they uncovered a goldfish pond pictured in an old photograph of the south side of the house.
Continue down the West 11th street steps
#5. (N) Carnegie Stout Public Library (11th and Bluff Streets)
The Carnegie Stout Public library, built in 1901, was designed by Williamson and Spencer of Chicago in the Beaux Arts Style at a time when more marble was being used in the U.S. for construction than was ever used by the Roman Empire. The north wall on Eleventh Street, which was the primary entrance, and the west wall on Bluff Street are Buff Limestone from Bedford, Indiana. The Corinthian main entrance portico was modeled after that of the Pantheon in Rome and supported by fluted columns. The Central portico on the west front is a copy of that on the North front, but without the pediment or monumental steps. The south and east wall (now replaced by the addition) were white brick. On the interior, the corridor and vestibule were separated from the main reading room by pilasters in the Corinthian order and a screen wall with an Italian marble base and oak paneling. The vestibule was wainscoted with Italian marble to a height of five feet and both vestibule and corridor have marble floors. At the center of the building is a rotunda measuring 38 by 22 feet. In the ceiling of the rotunda there used be a lightwell 13′ in diameter to admit light from the domed roof above. There are eight Corinthian columns with frieze and cornice ornamentation on the second floor of the rotunda. Scottish immigrant turned Industrialist Andrew Carnegie helped to construct libraries all over the U.S. His initial gift of $60,000 was met by $20,000 and land donated by the Stout family and $25,000 and 20,000 books from the Young Men’s Literary Association, which was the forerunner of the library. In addition to these now rare and valuable volumes, the Library houses the private collection of Senator William B. Allison and two Grant Wood paintings in its collection: “Victorian Survival” and “The Barter”. The addition to the east of the building was constructed in 1979-80.
Across the street from the library, and immediately next to it on Locust Street, are:
#6. Frank D. Stout House (1105 Locust), Fannie Stout House (1145 Locust), Masonic Temple (1155 Locust Street)
Henry L. Stout was born in Hunterdon County, New Jersey, in 1814, and came to Dubuque in 1836, where he started a small store with the money gained from an investment in mining. Starting in 1852, Stout was a salesman, and then a partner in the Knapp-Tainter Lumber Company, which changed its name in 1854 to the Knapp-Stout Lumber Company. Henry amassed one of Dubuque’s largest personal fortunes between 1853 and 1900. He was also an active member of the local railroad, bridge, and ferry boards. Henry’s son, Frank, built the house at 1105 Locust in 1890-91. John Spencer, who was also an architect for the library, designed it. The walls are of red Minnesota sandstone and leaded glass windows, mahogany and rosewood interior trim, onyx columns supporting double doors, and bathroom fixtures of German silver are some of the other outstanding features. The original design called for each room in the house to be paneled in a different types of wood, including oak, maple, and birch. When Frank decided to move to Chicago, his sister, Evelyn, bought the house, and she in turn sold it to The Archdiocese of Dubuque. Starting in 1911, it served as the residence of the Archbishop. It became a bed and breakfast in the 1980’s and is now a private residence. Henry had Fridolin Heer & Son design 1145 Locust Street for his daughter, Fannie. It is a frenzy of architectural styles from the Queen Anne era: Greek Revival, Gothic, Romanesque, and Oriental, capped by a Byzantine tower. Henry supported Finley Hospital and the Iowa Home of the Friendless, as well as donating the home he lived in on Iowa Street from 1857 to 1893 to the Y.M.C.A. From 1893 until his death in 1900, Henry lived with Fannie at 1145 Locust.
The first Masonic Lodge was organized in Dubuque in 1842 and occupied a site across from the present Julien Motor Inn. Over the next century, other Dubuque Masonic organizations were founded. In October of 1929, the Dubuque Fraternal Masonic organizations raised $200,000 in two days. The building was completed by 1932 at a cost of $325,000, but is valued today at several million dollars. Stone from Lannon, Wisconsin, was used to face the exterior in a random ashlar pattern. The entrance doors are bronze and many of the ceilings on the interior have exposed beams. The board of directors in charge of managing the building tries to maintain its historical accuracy, thus many of the rooms contain original furniture in the styles prevalent at the time of its construction. Every year, Dubuque Senior High School rents the basement banqueting hall for their annual Madrigal (medieval musical) Dinner theater.
Across the street, you will see:
#7. 1108 – 1134, 1182, and (P) 1192 Locust
The rowhouses at 1108-1134 are called the “O’Brien Block”. Most of them are in the Federal style and were built in the mid-1850’s. 1132 was the home of noted Senator William Boyd Allison who was influential nationally during his 46 years in the U.S. Congress.
The attractive Second Empire structure at 1182 was the home of Alfred Tredway, an early settler. Additions to adapt it for apartments have hidden some of the original character. The original portion at the center was built in the late 1870’s and designed by Fridolin J. Heer, Sr. The third floor was a ballroom but was also used by neighborhood children as a skating rink. Mr. Tredway and a partner were wholesale dealers in heavy hardware. The company occupied four large buildings in the city. Mrs. Tredway was a cousin of President William Howard Taft.
1192 is an Italian Villa built in 1855 and added to in 1860. The designer is believed to have been Rufus Rittenhouse (his house on the hill is site # 53). The owner, Fred Weigel, came from Germany with his family in 1833 when he was 11. He became prominent in milling, meatpacking, and real estate, purchasing a large amount of downtown property. This house was furnished with hand-carved furniture (some with gold inlay), antique silver and china, and valuable works of art. Five generations of the family were reared in the home.
#8. 1243, 1255-7, and 1268 Locust
The Goodrich-Wilson-Ryan home (1243 Locust Street) was designed by John Francis Rague (see Tour 2 or list before site #67). The front elevation is in the Greek Revival style of the 1830’s, while the columns are Gothic quatrefoil – some of the many elements making the house a combination style called “Bracketed Tudor Gothic”. An L-shaped addition did not continue the theme of the original unit, adding to the house’s overall eclecticism. Goodrich, the first owner, went to New York to buy furnishing for his home, but the Panic of 1857 forced him to mortgage the house as security and he was never able to redeem the property. After several owners the house was converted to apartments in 1943.
(P) 1255-7 Locust is a mix of Italian and French Baroque with its arched windows, attractive eyebrows (the carved stone over the windows), 2 story slanted bays, and bracketed eaves. This multiple house and 1243 were the first homes built on this block. Thomas Hardie came from Canada in 1846 and purchased this lot, which was at that time a field of penny royal and hazel brush north of the village. Mr. Hardie was a painter by trade and a friend of Gen. George Wallace Jones, serving under him as Surveyor and was for many years on the School Board and representative of Dubuque County to the Iowa Legislature.
William L. Bradley, one of Dubuque’s most important capitalists, built 1268 Locust. The house was designed by F.J. Heer, Sr (see bio. in Tour 2). Bradley served as a schoolteacher, but later began investing in real estate and at the time of his death in 1904 he was the city’s highest paying taxpayer. He was the majority stockholder of the Grand Opera House and its first vice president and second president.
#9. 1320, 1330 Locust, (1) (N) Andrew-Ryan House (1375 Locust), the first Ryan House (1389 Locust), and 1394 Locust
Ezekiel Woodworth built 1320 Locust in 1881. Ezekiel and his brother, W.W., were in the mercantile trade and W.W. was also proprietor of the Julien House Hotel (site # 20). The interior of Ezekiel’s home includes cherry woodwork and Carrara marble fireplace and parquet floors. Edward Lull, a banker and miner, built the Italian Villa at 1330 Locust. A porch once ran from the entrance around the corner of the house.
William Andrew built 1375 Locust in 1873. Fridolin J. Heer, Sr. designed the house, first lived in by Mayor John Thompson, and Ora Holland (see site # 39) was the contractor. William A. Ryan commissioned VanOsdel, who also designed Chicago’s Palmer House, to design 1389 Locust. Ryan, his wife, Ann Eliza Dignan, and their seven children moved into the house in 1871. To provide additional privacy, Ryan had a two-story wooden fence erected between his house and Thompson’s house. Whereas 1375 is in the Second Empire style with Italianate elements, 1389 Locust is in the Italian Villa style. Ann Eliza died in 1872 and Ryan remarried. In 1885, he purchased Thompson’s home and moved in with his second wife, Catherine Brown, and their five children. They took out the fence and moved the 30-room, 3-story Thompson house 13 feet to the south. Evidence of the new and old foundations can be seen in the basement of the Andrew-Ryan house today, where gaps between the two foundations have been filled with brick. A resident of Galena before moving to Dubuque, Ryan got to know General Ulysses S. Grant and supplied meat to the Union Army during the Civil War. Ryan’s descendents maintained the Andrew-Ryan house until 1967, when it was sold and eventually restored. The Dubuque County Historical Society now owns it. The same iron cresting that appears on the belvedere of 1375 once followed the entire roofline. A balcony that was entered from the tower is missing from the second floor of 1389.
1394 Locust was built about 1866 and its second owner was the Hon. Dennis Cooley, one-time partner of Sen. Allison (see Tour 3). He was appointed by President Lincoln as Commissioner to South Carolina to settle land titles, and by President Johnson as Commissioner of Indian Affairs. He also served as Commissioner to the Vienna Exposition and as President of the First National Bank of Dubuque. The Cooley home was the center of many civic affairs, particularly women’s activities. Mrs. Cooley was the first President of the Ladies’ Literary Association, which later became the Dubuque Women’s Club. The square central tower, a porch across the front with iron cresting, and an iron fence at the street have been removed to turn the Cooley home into a modern commercial enterprise.
In the next block of Locust Street, if you look to your left-between 1415 and 1449 Locust, you will see Fort Rittenhouse (a cream building off Montrose Terrace).
#10. Rufus Rittenhouse came to Dubuque in 1836 at the age of 11 and built his house on the bluff when he was 21. It was nicknamed “Fort” almost from the beginning because of its appearance and location. One of the oldest houses in the city, it is believed to have been built around 1846, making it on the only house on the hill at that time. After Rittenhouse’s death, the home was divided in two and each half was owned by a succession of prominent citizens, one of whom, locals allege, was named Hogg, giving the house its other nickname, “Hogg House”. Presently, it is broken up into apartments.
If you look to your left between 1449 and 1477 Locust Street, you will see the Montrose steps next to Fort Rittenhouse. Before the days of modern transportation, steps such as these were a boon to people living on the hill. In the early part of the 20th century, there were as many as 25 separate sets of public stairways through or around the bluffs of the city. These steps were built in 1930 by the City Park Board and meet Montrose Terrace at their top. If you drive up Loras Boulevard later, look to your right. You will see Montrose Terrace next to Fairview Street. Side by side streets, one terracing across the bluff face immediately and one going up the hill before terracing were much more common in the early days of Dubuque’s streets. Only a few streets like this remain today.
#11. (O) 1492 Locust Street
Benjamin Billings Richards came to Dubuque in 1854 and entered the real estate business, which required him to travel throughout the state on horseback or by stagecoach. He went on to become one of the city’s most influential bankers. Richards campaigned against William B. Allison for Congress during the Civil War, and in the late 1880’s he ran against David Henderson for Congress in Iowa’s Third District. Allison-Henderson Park, at the corner of University and Grandview Avenue is named after these two congressmen (see Tour 3). Richards served 2 years in the Iowa house and 10 in the Senate. He was the first president of the Dubuque National Bank and the founder of other banks in northeast Iowa. Richards also served on the school board and for a time was the principal of the high school. He was a charter member of Linwood Cemetery, convincing the association to establish a system of perpetual care, and he had maple trees planted along a tract of land between Dubuque and Sageville. Richards’ house, designed by F.D. Hyde and erected in 1882, is an example of the “stick style”, a revival of the colonial American vernacular architecture of New England. Richards’ house almost looked like it stepped right out Nathaniel Hawthorne’s House of Seven Gables. During the Queen Anne era in the U.S., houses were constructed using balloon frames. In balloon framing, a long stud runs continuously from sill to eave line, allowing a single stud to frame multiple stories. With the prevalence of long lumber in the late 1880’s, and industrialization producing machine-made nails, balloon framing, which did not require carpenters to be as skilled as more complex framing methods, allowed houses to be constructed quickly and easily. The stick style tried to reflect this machine age in architecture using plain trim boards, soffits, aprons, and other decorative features while eliminating the overtly ornate features such as rounded towers and gingerbread trim (also known as bargeboard) used in more ornate architectural style of the time. Characteristics of the style to be seen in 1492 Locust Street are tall proportions, steep roofs, and an irregular silhouette. There are seven fireplaces, seven kinds of wood in the house, and over 80 stained and leaded glass windows. Hundreds of ceramic tiles grace the fireplaces, bookcases, and chair rails. A Richards’ family member occupied the house until 1989, when the home was sold and turned into one of several Dubuque Iowa bed and breakfast inns.
Across 15th Street from this house is a parking lot that was the former site of old Central High School. Constructed of Wisconsin sandstone in a Richarsonian Romanesque style, it was the first permanent high school in the city. In 1923, the first class to graduate from Dubuque Senior High School carried their books up West Locust from Central to the new high school, where they completed their last three months. Central was then used as the Administration building for the school district until 1983. Despite its placement on the National Register of Historic Places, the old school was demolished. It is now a parking lot for Behr funeral home (site # 63). Take 15th to Main Street, and then turn left. 15th and 16th streets, and the alley between them are some of the few brick streets left in Dubuque.
#12. (P) 1611, 1631-3, 1655, and 1640 Main Street (Hoffman Schneider)
Another Fridolin Heer and Son-designed building, 1611 Main Street was built around 1875 for John Olinger, President of the Novelty Iron Works. It was later occupied by the family of Bart Molo, who was married to William Ryan’s daughter, Genivieve. The couple’s house is a virtually intact example of the Second Empire style. Molo began work with the A.Y. McDonald Manufacturing Company after he came to Dubuque in 1883 at the age of 22. He then started a firm with his brother-in-law, Bart E. Linehan. Linehan and Molo was a purveying firm for ice, coal, sand, gravel, and later, gas and oil. Molo also owned “Silver Acres”, a racetrack and stables where he raised and showed pacers and trotters, admitting the public for free.
1631-3 is an eclectic home built in 1870. Mrs. Julia Mulligan occupied 1631, while after 1892 her son, Henry, a grain commissioner, lived in 1633. Many structures on this block began as simple homes, which received elegant additions at later dates. The central section of 1655 probably began as a simple Second Empire building like 1631-2, but it received a rear addition in 1860, a front addition in 1880, and a bay window and porch in 1913. A number of prominent citizens have lived in this home: Nicholas Thedinga, son of the first German mayor; William Bonson, son of a well known judge; and Celina and Gustave, cousins to James Levi and son and daughter of Alexander Levi, wealthy businessman, civic leader, and the first naturalized citizen in Iowa.
Hoffman Schneider funeral home at 1640 Main Street designed by Fridolin J. Heer, Jr. was built for Frank Robinson in 1878 and later occupied by his son-in-law, Judge Benjamin Lacy (to whom the bas-relief of Potosa in Jackson Park is dedicated). The Second Empire Home was sold to Hoffman Mortuary in 1936. It is one of the finest examples of the style in the city with its ornate details and iron cresting. There are 10,000 cubic feet of stone in the foundation. Walls are 26″ thick, double brick with a 4″ airspace inbetween. Woodwork of mahogany and walnut was carved in Boston. The house has two heating systems, steam and hot air.
#13. Jackson Park, bounded by 15th. Main, 17th, and Iowa streets
Jackson Park began its days as Dubuque’s first designated cemetery beginning with the early settlement of 1833. The cemetery, paid for by subscription, was fenced to keep hogs and cattle out, but heavy rainfalls coursing off the bluffs would occasionally wash bodies into the street. The Cholera Pandemic of 1829-1851 was the first to travel outside Asia to Europe and North America. In the U.S., the dumping of human waste in the Mississippi River led the disease to spread throughout the river system, killing over 4,500 people in St. Louis and over 3,000 in New Orleans. Former President James K. Polk was a victim of the disease. Following on its heels, the Cholera Pandemic of 1852 – 1860 took the lives of about 3,500 people in Chicago in 1854. Cholera struck Dubuque in the summer of 1852, and demands for a new burial site led to the cemetery being condemned. The tombstones were removed in 1858 and the bodies were reburied in Linwood Cemetery in 1867. In the 1870’s, the park was graded, and a gazebo and sidewalks were built. Congressman D.B. Henderson dedicated the pagoda, but 20 years later it had fallen into disrepair and was torn down. In 1913, the three sons of Judge Lacy erected a monument and pool near Iowa Street in memory of their father. The bronze figure in bas-relief personifies Potosa, legendary wife of Julien Dubuque, and daughter of Chief Peosta, both of whom are buried at the Julien Dubuque monument (site #3). Today the pool has been filled in.
Across 17th Street from Hoffman Schneider funeral home, you will see:
#14. 1752 Main/Madison, 175 W. 17th St., and 135 W. 17th
When Main Street crosses W. 17th street, it becomes Madison Street. Midway up the bluff you will see a set of steps leading to 1752 Main/Madison. This house was originally accessed off of the elaborate Madison Street Steps. Beginning in the 1800’s, a set of steep wooden steps allowed homeowners on the bluff a way to reach their homes and visitors a way to reach Madison Park. In 1918, the city replaced them with a stone staircase that was as much architecture as steps. The ornate stair, built for $2,100,was composed of eight separate flights, and one of them formed a complete 360-degree spiral midway up the bluff. Planters, plush with flowers and greenery capped the foot-thick concrete supports, and handsomely proportioned cast iron lampposts illuminated the whole stairway. Time and weather took their toll and the Park Board closed the steps to the public in 1956. In 1977, a city planner recreated the design of the steps with a plan that won a national award, but donors willing to fund the estimated cost of $244,000 to rebuild the steps never materialized. Some of the steps were demolished and others were allowed to collapse under their own weight. The last of the steps were removed in 1989, and replaced by a wooden staircase reaching only to the house. Visitors to Madison Park must now walk or drive all the way up Madison street to Clarke Drive, take a right onto it, and then another right onto N. Main Street to access the park.
Joseph F. Stampfer, of the J.F. Stampfer Co. store, the Security Building (site # 32), and the Dubuque Building and Loan Association, lived in the Queen Anne with hints of Stick and Craftsman styles at 195 W. 17th street. His son Thomas continued operation of the store and was prominent in several areas of civic work.
James Cushing lived at 175 W. 17th street and was connected by a catwalk to his son, I.J., at 1752 Main/Madison. James monopolized the city’s ice business until he loaned money to a man manufacturing vinegar. To recoup his loan, James developed the Northwest Vinegars Works into the largest in the state. William Lawther, President of Lawther Confectionary, later lived here. His daughter, Anna B. Lawther, was widely known in state educational circles.
William Bonson, son of early settler Judge Richard Bonson (site # 43), lived at 135 W 17th Street. William had a law firm with his brother, Judge Robert Bonson, and the two of them also built boats. In addition, William was director of a bank and several manufacturing firms. The stucco gable studded with stones is one of the house’s most interesting features, but the reason behind it is not known. Alfred Tredway (site #50), owner of the Iowa Iron Works, later occupied this home. Tredway sold his interest in the founder and machinery to Jesse P. Farley (site #10) after only two years and in 1853 went into business with William Andrew (site #52). The firm, soon purchased by Tredway and renamed Tredway and Sons, was located at 484-88 Main Street. They advertised themselves as the first hardware store west of the Mississippi and opened three more stores on Iowa Street. By the late 1800’s, Tredway Salesmen traveled Iowa, Illinois, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Wisconsin selling merchandise to other hardware stores. The Tredways later built a mansion in another area of town. Mrs. Tredway was a cousin of President Taft.
Continue East on W. 17th Street.
#15. First Presbyterian (formerly German Presbyterian) and Unitarian Universalist (formerly German Methodist) churches, 1684 and 1699 Iowa Street.
The German Evangelical Church of Dubuque was founded by Rev. Peter Flury in a church on Ninth and Iowa Streets. In 1854, the church’s name was changed to the First German Presbyterian Church. Flury’s successor, Rev. Adrian Van Vliet (pronounced “Van Fleet”), began the seminary that would become the University of Dubuque in the basement of the “Old Blue Church” at 1684 Iowa Street. Programs of the church also led to the establishment of Bethany Home retirement center on Lincoln Avenue. Van Vliet’s church was replaced by one in the High Gothic style in 1896, designed by Fridolin Heer & Son (see tour 2). Features are fine brickwork, eaves and cornices of pressed metal, and a bullseye window. The large corner tower is offset, and a “lesser” tower can be seen in the middle of the building. The word “German” was mortared over on the cornerstone in 1927 because of the German-backlash caused by World War I. The word was restored to the building in the 1980’s, but the official name of the church remained First United Presbyterian Church. Since 1979, the church building has been on the National Register of Historic Places for Presbyterian Churches.
The German Methodist Church was organized in 1841 by 11 dedicated pioneers. The congregation grew slowly, but after occupying three other sites, the Gothic Revival Church at 1699 Iowa Street was built. It is simple in design, with stick or craftsman details in the gables. Two bullseye windows and corner buttresses capped by stone are the most noticeable features of the church building. Dubuque’s Universalist Church was founded in 1858. In the early 1860’s, its members purchased and renovated a former Baptist Church at 10th and Main Street. When the congregation declined in size, they sold the building to the Dubuque Cabinet Maker’s association, who in turn occupied the site until 1924 and sold it to the Dubuque Electric Company. In 1982, 20 people revived the faith by establishing bylaws and affiliated themselves with the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, from whom they received their charter in 1985. The Fellowship’s first public function was a celebration of Martin Luther King’s birthday on January 20, 1986. They have occupied the former German Methodist Church since 2004.
#16. Power of Prayer, Inc. Building (75 W. 17th St.)
During 75 W. 17th Street’s long and checkered history, it has been associated with 3 different denominations and several times a school. Catherine Beecher, sister of Harriet Beecher Stowe and Henry Ward Beecher, offered a $20,000 matching grant to establish the first female seminary west of Chicago, along with four faculty and $1,000 for books and supplies. A group of locals (including Mathias Ham, of site # 80) contributed $15,000 and the school was built in 1854, but closed four years later due to lack of patronage. In 1858, the city paid $12,000 to use the building as a high school (fore-runner of Dubuque Senior), but the continuing effects of the 1857 financial crisis soon closed the facility. An Episcopalian Seminary occupied the building until 1871, when it was sold to the German Theological Seminary for $10,000. The building was condemned in 1907 and the Seminary moved to its new campus, now the University of Dubuque. Immaculate Conception Academy, a Catholic girl’s high school, was the next school to occupy the building, and in the 1950’s the building became a convalescent home. Then the Girl’s Club of Dubuque took over the building. Today, it is a privately operated prayer center.
Continue East on Seventeenth Street to
#17. (N) Hollenfelz House (1651 White Street)
The house at 1651 White Street was built in 1891 for Michael Hollenfelz, a wholesale wine, liquor, and beer dealer. The use of the Second Empire style is very belated for 1891, and has been overlaid with minor features (the stringcourses, pointed triangular pediments, and use of terra cotta) more contemporary to the time. St. Mary’s Parish bought the home in 1906 and converted it to St. Mary’s High School for Boys. The exterior was only minimally altered (removing the balustrade of the stoop, the cast iron fence around the property, roof cresting, and some jigsaw decoration) but the interior was extensively altered for use as a school. The brick carriage house to the rear of the main was converted to a boy’s locker room, with storage areas in the wings. The school was run by the Brothers of Mary (of St. Louis), its curriculum emphasizing post-parochial school training in business and commerce. The school’s principal, Brother Francis, was also a prominent local baseball umpire. He was known for wearing different colored sleeves as an umpire so that crowds could easily distinguish between a strike call and a ball. St. Mary’s High School was very successful at finding jobs for its graduates, particularly with the Dubuque Fire and Marine Insurance Company. Dubuquers used to say a boy attending St. Mary’s could count on a job placement by the Easter of his senior year. The school was overcrowded by 1929 and the parish decided to send their boys to Loras Academy instead of constructing another school. The high school girls in St. Mary’s parish were sent to Immaculate Conception Academy. From 1929 to 1957, the building was used as an elementary school. After that, it was converted into apartments. As of 2007, the building was undergoing restoration.
Take a right on White Street.
#18. St. Mary’s Catholic Church (1584 White Street)
Bishop Loras allowed 40 German families to form a new congregation in 1849, while St. Raphael’s continued to serve Dubuque’s Irish Catholics. Named Holy Trinity, the German Catholic church was constructed at the northeast corner of 8th and White. Due to a shortage of German speaking priests, a missionary, Father Gerhard H. Plathe, served the congregation. Classes were led by laymen in the church basement as early as 1851. In 1863, the German Roman Catholic Building Association of Dubuque was formed with the goal of constructing a new church. After attempting to purchase the Presbyterian Seminary, but meeting opposition, the Association purchased a site that was then an orchard from the Edward Langworthy estate. The cornerstone for the church was laid in the spring of 1865 and the church was formally dedicated in 1867. St. Mary’s imposing steeple towers 236 feet above the street and was patterned after the steeple of Salisbury Cathedral in England. This church, too, was constructed in the Gothic style, using pointed arches, buttressed walls, pinnacles at the corners and corbelling similar to that at First Congregational Church. Architect John Mullaney, who also designed St. Raphael’s, used brick, with a stone foundation and trim. St. Mary’s Church was the start of four parishes in Dubuque: Sacred Heart (established 1879), Holy Ghost (1896), Holy Trinity (1910), and Nativity (1922). A convent and school was built at 15th and Jackson Street in 1870, followed by a 3-story brick grade school constructed to the south two years later. St. Mary’s Casino was constructed across 16th Street from the church in 1901. The basement was used as a basement and bowling alley, the main floor was used for card playing and billiards, and the upstairs was an auditorium. In 1959, the Casino was completely rebuilt into the present St. Mary’s early childhood and preschool center.
When you get to Fifteenth Street, go west two blocks to Iowa Street.
#19. VNA (1454 Iowa Street) and St. Patrick’s Church (160 W. 15th St.)
The Visiting Nurse’s Association occupies the structure at 1454 Iowa Street, the site of a former tenement referred to as “Bed Bug Row”. This conservative Transitional International with Art Deco detailing is the only building in the city built expressly as a funeral home. Important as an early 20th century rendition, its style stands out in this 19th century district. The building is highly fireproof with steel beams and columns, steel joists, and concrete floors. Not to be completely functional, it has ornamental iron window balconies. It also used to have a five-room penthouse apartment.
St. Patrick’s parish was founded in 1853 to relieve overcrowding at St. Raphael’s. Considered a mission of the Cathedral in its early days, all of St. Patrick’s records of marriages, births, and deaths were kept at St. Raphael’s. Because of construction work on St. Raphael’s cathedral, the ordination of Father Henry Cosgrove was held in St. Patrick’s rented facilities. Shortly after, St. Patrick’s parish started building their own church building, which was dedicated in 1878. It is fashioned after the French Gothic style of the 12th century. The cornerstone came from Dublin County, Ireland, and weighed 2,000 pounds. Lintels over the windows, four Gothic gables, and an 180-foot steeple are distinctive elements. The church cost $30,000 and was designed by John Keenan, a local architect. In 1928 the church was remodeled and enlarged for $46,000. Today, St. Patrick’s holds services in Spanish as well as in English.
Immediately next to St. Patrick’s is the former church school. It is now a school for Four Oaks and has the mission of educating children who cannot function in the regular school environment. Four Oaks was begun by Ed Daley in 1973 as a home for boys in Betram (outside of Cedar Rapids). Today, it is one of the largest non-profit, child welfare / juvenile justice agencies in Iowa, with offices in 15 Iowa cities serving over 7,000 people annually throughout the state.
Continue on 15th street past the front of St. Patrick’s church; take a left on Main Street
#20. 1491 (Behr Funeral Home), (P) 1471, 1455 and (P, O) 1433 Main Street.
Behr Funeral Home is located in the Alexander Young House. Young was born to Scottish parents in New York in 1814. He arrived in Galena at the age of 20 and was elected sheriff six years later. He served until 1845, when he began spending part of his time in Dubuque, making his fortune in steamboating and lumber. Young and his wife, Elizabeth Bates, made Dubuque their permanent residence in 1859 and lived for many years in the Julien House hotel (site # 20). After living in other residences around the city, they hired Fridolin J. Heer, Sr. to design a Second Empire style mansion at 1491 Main Street. The north and east facades are cut entirely from stone quarried in Joliet, Illinois, and display detailed panels with false mortar joints and shallow relief. The front entry is surround by ornately carved stone and legend tells us that interior doors were equipped with plates and knobs of gold. Young died only one year after moving in, but Elizabeth continued to live there until her death in 1897. That year, Nannie Richards Bell purchased the home and lived there with her son and daughter-in-law. Nannie was the widow of John Bell, owner of the mercantile store in the Town Clock Building at the time it collapsed. After Nannie’s death in 1907, her son, Frank, and his wife, Laura Coates, an active member of St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, continued to live in the home. Frank predeceased Laura in 1927. Norbert and Mary Behr opened a funeral home in 1937 and were interested in buying the Young House, but Laura declined to sell during her lifetime. However, after she died at the age of 81 in 1947, it was discovered that Laura had directed her will to sell the building to Behr regardless of price. Behr Funeral home moved in two years later. Today, Behr Funeral Home continues to be run by Norbert and Mary’s daughter, Kathleen A. Conlon, and her son, Kevin, and daughter-in-law, Nancy. In early 2000, they began restoration work on the building.
Heer, Sr. also designed the house next door to Behr Funeral Home, at 1471, and the house just down the street, at 1433 Main Street. Both 1471 and 1433 have Italianate details. 1471 was built in 1881 for Alonzo J. Van Duzee, prominent attorney and Clerk of Court for the Northeast Iowa District. His daughter, Kate, was a Paris trained artist and founded the local boy’s club. 1433 was commissioned by Colonel David B. Henderson, a Scottish immigrant who was wounded twice (losing a leg) while serving in the U.S. Civil War. He was also a prominent attorney, Collector of Internal Revenue, Assistant U.S. Attorney for Northeast Iowa, and was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1883, where her served for 20 years, eventually as Speaker of the House. Due to the similarities between 1433 and 1455 Main Street, it is possible Heer Sr. constructed it as well. From the early 1900’s to 1961, the family of Frank N. Schroeder lived in the house. Schroeder was a partner in of the largest wholesale grocery firms in the state, Director of the Dubuque Altar Company, School Board member, and three-term County Treasurer.
#21. St. John’s Episcopal Church (1410 Main Street)
The congregation of St. John’s Episcopal Church was organized in 1845 and work began on a small brick church at 9th and Locust Street 3 years later. The current site was purchased in 1874, but the discovery of quicksand, and the resultant need for a deeper foundation, caused the cornerstone dated 1875 not to be laid until 1877. The church was constructed over the following year using Farley limestone quarried in Dubuque County. Its pointed arches, buttressed walls, quatrefoil windows and crenellated roof edges suggest that it was influenced by Old English Gothic Church design. True to Anglican tradition, the sanctuary forms a cross. The church has five windows designed by Tiffany & Company (see site #68). The red doors symbolize the blood of Christ and the early martyrs. The beams in the vaulted ceiling resemble a boat or ark, symbolic of the protection and safety of the Christian faith. The rose window includes a Transfiguration scene and is surrounded by separate windows for Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
#22. (P, O) Mandolin Inn 199 – 201 Loras Boulevard / 14th Street
This 1908 Queen Anne house with eclectic features displays patterned brick work in the hexagonal tower, glazed Spanish clay tile roof, Palladian windows in the east gable and hand carved limestone porch pillars with decorative panels. The firm of Fridolin Heer & Son designed the home for Nicholas J. Schrup, a prominent financier. Schrup was also a state senator, president of 4 banks and various insurance companies, a trustee of Loras College and was knighted by the king of Belgium in 1920 for work that he did with Belgian refugees during and after WWI. The building was the Schrup family’s private home until 1950 when the family gave the home to the Catholic Archdiocese, who in turn gave it to the BVM nuns that taught at St. Patrick’s school. It was their convent and mother home until 1972 when the nuns sold the home to the Canon House organization. It operated as a halfway house for juvenile delinquents until 1976. The next owner used the building as a law firm and college apartment house. The Nicholas Schrup house has operated as the Mandolin Inn Bed and Breakfast since 1988. Most recent major restoration occurred on the exterior and parts of the interior of the building from 1998 – 2005, culminating with making the building wheelchair accessible.
Go east on 14th Street, and take a right on Central.
#23. (P) Dubuque Bank and Trust (located in the building of the former German Trust and Saving Bank, 1398 Central,) and connected by tunnel to (N) John Bell Block (345-69 23rd Street and 1301 – 37 Central) and (N) Ziepprecht Building (1347 Central). The German Trust and Savings Bank, organized in 1887, started in the 1301 section of the John Bell Block, and expanded to included 1315/17 in 1911.. They changed their name to the Union Trust Bank during World War 1. The Union Trust Bank built the bank at the corner of 14th Street and Central Avenue in 1922-3. A Chicago architectural firm designed the building in Italian Renaissance Style, with interior walls of Italian Botticino marble, and crystal chandeliers imported from Norway. The exterior material is of matte glaze terra cotta and Minnesota granite. In 1932, the Union Trust Bank was declared insolvent and the building was sold to the Federal Discount Corporation and that corporation was superseded by Dubuque Bank and Trust, in 1944.
The estate of German-born druggist Henry Ziepprecht funded the three-story brick double storefront building at 1347 Central Avenue. Locating in Dubuque in 1856, Ziepprecht became one of the first druggists. According to city directories, his drugstore occupied a woodframe building at 1347 Central (then called Clay) as early as 1868. Ziepprecht died at his residence at 770 West 5th in 1887 after several weeks of illness. Historical records indicate the Ziepprecht family moved into both floors above the drugstore once the brick building was built in 1888 for $14,000. The architect of the Ziepprecht Building is not known, but it likely was designed to coordinate in massing with the John Bell Block. A member of the Ziepprecht family owned the building in conjunction with the Young Men’s Library Association for a brief time in the early 1900’s before again owning the building in full. Joseph W. Wittmer, manger of Ziepprecht Drugstore, opened his own drugstore (which sold paints, oils, and glass in addition to drugs) in 1896. Adam Zillig took over the drugstore in 1911, (in conjunction with the Brau Brothers Variety Store for a while in the ‘20’s), followed by Alfred Finch’s Pharmacy in 1939. The Genz store occupied the Zieppecht Building and the Bell Block from 1939 to 1960, at which point the Walsh store took over occupancy until 2002. Heartland Financial USA, Inc, which is the present parent corporation of Dubuque Bank and Trust, bought both the Bell Block and Zieppecht building at that time.
The three-story Bell block was constructed in 1886 for the capitalist John Bell by German architect Martin Heer (no relation to Swiss Architects Fridolin Joseph Heer, Sr. and Jr.) and contractor Anton Zwack, both of whom maintained their professional practices on the block’s second floor. It is an amalgam of Queen Anne commercial styles, and presents storefronts on both facades, to the south and the east. Twin-double storefront on the east (Main Street) façade flank a recessed single-bay that contained the entrance to the second floor public hall. In addition, the block housed storefronts, the first German Trust and Savings Bank (which later built the building across the street) in the 1301 section, professional offices, and apartments. This business area was closely tied to the city’s German-American population. Bell’s firm, Bell, Ryder, and Wallis, occupied the first Town Clock Building at the time of its collapse, and Bell was a director of the German Trust and Savings Bank. The east façade retains its original cast ironwork and broad, bracketed pressed metal cornice, while the south façade was always much more plain, lacking the bay-defined cadence of the main façade. The Bell Block, which was constructed for $16,000, is one of 3 three-story quadruple storefront business blocks on Central (which was called Clay in the later 1880’s.) The other two are the J. Simons Block (1884) at 1570-92 Central and the E. Muntz Block (1888) at 1735-55 Central.
If look straight ahead as you stand on the corner of 13th and Central, you will see the first Prescott School building at 12th and Central. This is the only John Francis Rague-designed school still standing in Dubuque. Rague is considered one of the first successful architects in the Midwest. He also designed the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield, the Old Iowa State Capitol in Iowa City, the Insurance Exchange Building in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, three halls at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, Janesville Upper Bridge, and the Dubuque City Hall, Old Jail, Third Ward School (Prescott School, standing at 12th and Central in 2007 as an apartment building, Fifth Ward School (Audubon, replaced in 1907), Higginson House, Goodrich-Wilson-Ryan home, Derby Grange, Edward Langworthy Octagon House, Mathias Ham House and Hetherington House.
Turn right on 13th, and then a left on Iowa to circle around the City Hall.
#24. (N) Dubuque City Hall (50 W. Thirteenth Street)
Dubuque’s first city hall was located in small two-story brick building on the corner of Fifth and Locust streets. Begun in 1857 and occupied a year later, the current City Hall was designed by John Francis Rague (see Tour 2) and modeled after Boston’s Fanueuil Hall and the Fulton Street Market in New York City. The three-story brick building rests on limestone podium. The Basement, entered from the south side (toward 12th street), it contained a “calaboose”, several saloons, and fireproof vaults for records. The first floor was a market hall, containing one market stall 22′ wide per bay, except on the north (13th Street) side were the 3 central bays were devoted to entrance and staircase. Each stall was equipped with gas outlet and stove. Cast iron brackets placed 2-bay intervals support the story above. The first city market was held outdoor by 1st and Jones Street (now the working port). Later there was a market house at Fifth Street between Main and Locust, and each ward had its own market as well. The first grain market was located on 1st street between Main and Locust; there was a haymarket on Locust Street, and wood market at 8th and Clay (Central). Once the city hall was built, the meat market occupied its market floor. Most of the other city markets consolidated themselves on Central and Iowa Streets around City Hall. On the second floor of the City Hall, there was a city council room at the east end, a general meeting room at the west end, and offices in between. The third floor was undivided except for a housing at the east end for stairs to the Cupola. The open space could be used for dances or community gathering and in later years as an archery and pistol range for the police department, a bowling alley, and a horseshoe pitching area. The City Hall bell was tolled for various occasions, from church services to fires to the end of wars and to welcome home returning heroes. With the advent of supermarkets, the city market declined, but to this day a farmer’s market continues to be held on Central Street in front of City Hall every Saturday from 7am to noon, May to October. City Hall was renovated in 1926, and the bell tower was removed in 1954 due to its deteriorated condition. The bell was placed on display in a plaza on the Central Avenue side of City Hall. The building was renovated again in 1973. After a fundraising campaign, the original bell was installed in a new 47-foot aluminum reproduction of the original bell tower that was installed in 1990.
At the corner of 12th and Iowa Street, you will see a parking lot that was the site of one of the earliest brick houses in Dubuque, built by Edward Langworthy. Continue west on 12th Street to Main Street.
#25. (N) St. Luke’s United Methodist Church (1199 Main Street) and former Parsonage (1171 Main Street), (P) rowhouses across street (1100-1150 Main Street).
Pastor Barton Randall, a Methodist minister sent to work with the miners founded the oldest congregation (of any denomination other than the native religions) when he preached his first sermon at the Bell Tavern, located on the present site of the Julien Motor Inn, in 1833. The following spring, Randall and twelve fellow Methodists built a log meeting house, which the Methodists allowed other congregations to use, as well as serving as a court and schoolhouse, in what is now Washington Park. It was in that building that citizens passed a resolution incorporating Dubuque as Iowa’s first town. A replica of this first church of the congregation that would become St. Luke’s can be found on the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines (founded ten years after Dubuque). In 1839, a church building at the northwest corner of Locust and 7th streets was constructed in honor of the 100th anniversary of John Wesley’s founding of the Methodist Church as an offshoot of the Anglican. Iowa became a state in 1846. A brick building was first constructed at 12th and Main Streets in 1853, and this site has housed the congregation every since. Following the Civil War, a public school for African American children was opened in the basement of the former Centenary Methodist Church. It operated until 1877, when the Dubuque Community schools were integrated. In 1896, the cornerstone was laid for the present church building, then called St. Luke’s Methodist Episcopal Church (as can be seen carved in the limestone of the Main Street entrance). It was built of Bedford Limestone and designed by George Kramer. The church is best known for its collection of Tiffany windows. Of 108 windows in the church, only one is not a product of the Louis Comfort Tiffany Glass Company. It is not only the collection’s size alone, but also the fact that it spans 38 years (1893 – 1931), most of the lifetime of Tiffany Studios, that makes it noteworthy. The Church also owns three Tiffany stained glass lamps. Tiffany & Company was an interior design firm before his development of Favrile glass, and some of the pilaster capitals in the sanctuary are very Tiffanequse; if they are not a product of Tiffany & Co, the interior designer who produced them must have made a conscious effort to design them in the Tiffany Style. The St. Luke’s building itself is Romanesque, but parts of it look very Arts and Crafts, particularly when considered in conjunction with the Tiffany windows. The stair tower, which also serves as the building’s main entrance, is one such area. The frieze around the chancel, “The Singing Children”, is an exact replica of a Luca dell Robia design in Italy. It, the 15-ton McShane Bells; the Farrand and Votey Pipe organ; the brass altar rail; the oak, brass, and Sienna marble pulpit; the quarter-sawed oak ceiling over the nave and chancel and the carved altar table are among other cherished treasures of the church. In 1968, the Methodist Church merged with the Evangelical United Brethern church to become the United Methodist Church, and St. Luke’s accordingly changed its name. In 1992, the Church restored the organ. Since that time they have restored the Sanctuary windows, added an elevator to the back of the church to make it handicapped accessible, and are currently embarking on a fundraising effort to restore the rest of the church’s historical areas and renovate others to accommodate the church’s community outreach programs. In 1903, a parsonage was constructed next door to St. Luke’s, also in the Richardsonian Romanesque style, but today it is rented to businesses.
(P) Frederick R. Bissell came to Dubuque in 1855 and worked as a mercantilist until 1863, when he was offered and accepted the lucrative position of special-agent and adjuster for the Hartford Life Insurance Company, as office which he held up until the time of his death. Bissell purchased the property at 11th and Main for $3,000.To meet the demand for housing, Mr. Bissell immediately hired architect John Kennan to design the buildings known as the “Bissell block” at 1100-1500.When completed, the Bissell Block consisted of four rowhouses of 12 rooms each with modern improvements. (Bissell’s house is site #33 and his relative’s is site #29). In succeeding years, the Bissell block passed from one investor to another, until being purchased by Jack Thompson in the 1990’s. After five years of rehabilitation, the rowhouses were again ready for occupancy.
#26. (P) 1000 – 1100 Block of Main Street
From 1870 – 1895, the Freemason’s Hall was located at 5th and Locust Streets. It later became the Julien Theater, and then was torn down in 1932 to make way for the Post Office and Federal Building. In 1895, the Mason’s constructed a Hall at 1000 Main Street. Richard Herrmann, a charter member of the Dubuque Masonic Council, had a furniture retail outlet on the first floor, and the third floor was devoted to Masonic activities, and later used as a public dance hall. The Masons occupied the building until 1906, when the Mason’s made a former Presbyterian Church at 11th and Locust Streets into their first temple. The Masons occupied this building, which was torn down to make expansion space for the Carnegie Stout Public Library, until their current temple was dedicated on March 15, 1932. In 1924, the Masons sold the building at the corner of 10th and Main streets to the Interstate Power Company, which converted the third floor hall into a staff lounge. Today, the building is owned by Alliant Energy, but the Masonic Insignia can still be seen at the top of the building’s cornice.
The rest of the block between 1000 Main and the corner of Main and 11th Streets has been dubbed “The Gronen Block” by locals for the work that John and Mary Gronen of Gronen Restoration have done to preserve, restore, and remodel it in 2006-7. This area was the northern commercial end of Dubuque’s most important commercial street. It differed fundamentally from the blocks to the south in that its storefronts were smaller and used only by small retailers. The small storefronts worked in conjunction with apartments and boarding houses above them. The district lay on the double track of the principle streetcar line along Main Street. The mix of commercial buildings is imposing, with almost all of the buildings three stories in height or higher. The block transitioned from substantial brick residence to commercial storefronts after the Civil War. At least three buildings on the east side of Main Street date to 1868 – 1873 and likely contain earlier building remnants. Thus, the range of styles runs from some of the earliest surviving storefront examples to turn-of-the century. Inspired by the Gronens’ example, other business owners in the neighborhood have restored their businesses. This block contains both the office of Gronen Restoration and Dubuque Main Street Limited, a non-profit that is one of over a thousand community programs throughout the nation working to maintain the vitality of historic city centers. As a guard against gentrification, which is when the cost of living in a neighborhood post-restoration increases to the point that ordinary businesses and renters can no longer afford the neighborhood, the Gronens have designated all the apartments in the Main Block as “affordable”, a term meaning the cost of rent is no higher than 30 % of the income of the average renter.
At 10th Street, take a right. Go one block West to
#27. First Congregational Church (255 W. Tenth Street) and 1005, and 1025-37 Locust. First Congregational Church – United Church of Christ was begun by Rev. James A. Clark, fourteen women and five men in 1839. After holding services in a stone church east of the Washington Park and the County Courthouse, the cornerstone of the present church was laid in 1856. The panic of 1857 put a temporary stop to the work and it was not finished and dedicated until 1860. Designed by David Jones, it is an example of High Victorian Gothic Architecture. Its corbelled red brick walls are trimmed with native Dubuque stone and its rose window, thirteen feet in diameter, is the largest in the city. Celebrating Gen. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, the original bell rang all night until it cracked. The church purchased a Johnson’s Opus 277 organ in 1869 and the corner tower was completed in 1875. An ornate cap on the tower was removed some year’s ago. Memorial windows were installed during remodeling in 1895. Until World War II, all pews were rented to parishioners, and the church still has, but no longer uses, the velvet collection bags on long sticks, which originated with the New England Pilgrims, progenitors of Congregationalism. In the 1800’s, pew rent could vary from 25 cents to over $5 and a pew could be purchased for $37.50. In the 1870’s, a three-story educational and administration building was built adjoining the church to the east, where the parsonage used to stand. Elizabeth Pigg, ordained December 14, 1986, was the church’s first woman pastor. The church was the first in the Dubuque area to participate in the Stephen Ministry, a nationwide program for training lay ministers to provide individual council for people in traumatic experiences.
Take a left on Main Street. Continue South to
#28. (P) Former DaVinci’s Restaurant and Leo’s pub (Former First Church of Christ, Scientist) 359 W. Ninth. The First Church of Christ, Scientist, was built in 1911 in an interpretation of the Neo-classical style, with Roman elements apparent in the simplified columns and ornaments. Most Christian Science churches were built on the same general cross plan, which unlike other denominations, places the long arms of the cross plan horizontal to the main entrance to permit closer seating to the chancel and the enhance acoustics. The last church services were held in November 1988. In November 1991, after five months of renovation, Pasta O’Shea’s restaurant opened on the upper level with an Irish pub on the entrance level. It was followed by Dempsey’s Restaurant and Molly’s Pub, and in 2007 was DaVinci’s Restaurant and Leo’s pub.
Take a Left on 9th Street, go west to
#29. (N) Henry Stout Senior Apartments (former Young Men’s Christian Association Building) 125 West Ninth Street. The Dubuque Chapter of the Y.M.C.A. is one of the oldest chapters west of the Mississippi River. It was founded during a meeting in 1856 in a lecture room at First Congregational Church. Room over a drugstore at 130 North Main provided the first home for the Y.M.C.A. when it opened in 1866. After relocating to 130 North Main Street, the Y.M.C.A. began a fundraising campaign for a new facility. In 1894, Henry L. Stout donated his 1857 home at 9th and Iowa streets, valued at $20,000, to the organization. That same year, the Y.M.C.A. built a Richardsonian-Romanesque gymnasium and residence hall addition to the west of the home. In 1906, the auditorium was cut up into two floors and subdivided into 50 dormitory rooms. A light well was built, the gymnasium was enlarged by removing a locker room, and basketball hoops were installed in the running room. In 1916, the Stout home was demolished and Cyrus D. McLane designed a commercial style five story building housing administrative offices, 2 meeting rooms, 62 residence rooms, lockers, club room, handball court, swimming pool, weightlifting room, and health center. Grown men entered the building on 9th street, where they had their own lobby, and minor boys had an entrance, lobby, and game room off Iowa Street. Men and boys had separate shower and dressing rooms and their own stairways and corridors for accessing shared facilities, like the gymnasium or the basement swimming pool. The Boy Scouts, the Boys Club, the Red Cross, and the Kiwanis regularly used the facilities and during World War II the Y.M.C.A. provided temporary housing for soldiers returning home. In 1970, the Y.M.C.A. moved into a new combined building with the Y.W.C.A. at 35 North Booth. The Young Women’s Christian Association was founded in 1902 and occupied two brick buildings at 6th and Locust. This facility was torn down to make way for the Post Office and Federal Building. From 1970 – 1997, the former building of the Y.M.C.A. was the “Iowa Inn”, which rented rooms to long-term, low-income tenants. Most recently, the building was remodeled into the Henry Stout Senior apartments.
Here ends the Tour. Walk back to 11th Street and then up the hill to retrieve your car.
Brochures written by R.R.S. Stewart
N = Site is listed on the National Register for Historic Places.
P = Site has received a Historic Preservation award from the Dubuque County Historical Society.
O = Site has been featured on an Old House Enthusiasts tour.