Dubuque Architecture Tour

Travel DubuqueExplore, Heritage, Heritage + History, History

Dubuque possesses many architectural treasures worthy of a tour.  Here is just a sampling of the must see historic architecture to take in while traversing the city.

Eagle Point Park

When Charles Robinson, a park specialist, noted in 1907 that “I have never seen a place where the Almighty has done more and mankind less” than Dubuque, Judge responded to the challenge. He called a commission to create a new park. On 100 acres purchased from the A.L. Rhomberg estate, Eagle Point Park opened in 1910. A legend of an Indian who shot an eagle from the bluff gave the new park its name.  Alfred Caldwell, a landscape architect, followed the Prairie School of Architecture to design what he called: a city in a garden”.  The stone structures, shelters, and fish pond were built during the Great Depression with Works Progress Administration workers and fund. Today the park encompasses 164 acres, includes tennis courts, a band shell, and a children’s’ wading pool.  Eagle Point Park is a favorite site for reunions, family picnics, weddings, and graduation parties.  The views along the riverwalk overlooking the Mississippi River and Lock and Dam # 11 attract many walkers.

Hollenfelz House

At 1651 White Street, the Hollenfelz House once housed St. Mary’s School for Boys.  This ornate structure was built in the Second Empire Style with a mansard roof, dormers, and a cupola, including High Victorian decorative details that were unusual for its style.  Originally constructed as a home for Michael Hollenfelz who operated a wholesale business selling wine, liquors, and beer, St. Mary’s purchased the home in 1906. The Brothers of Mary from St. Louis taught a curriculum emphasizing business and commerce until 1929 when it became a grade school.  In 1957 it was converted into an apartment building as it remains today.

Stampfer’s Department Store

At 8th and Main Streets, the Stampfer’s Department Store brought high-end goods to Dubuque residents for many years.  Dubuque’s oldest department store began with a partnership between J.F. Stampfer and F. W. Altman who constructed a new building in 1896. The terra cotta exterior designed by Fridolin Heer and Son was a departure from Dubuque’s dominant brick and stone construction.  The Beaux Arts School of Architecture of the building’s exterior features rich, lavish ornamented details with cornices, swags, a flat roof and arched windows. Stampfer’s was renowned for elegant clothing, furs sold in the French Room and its dinette, Stampfer’s continued operation until 1962. Today it is the headquarters for Cottingham and Butler Insurance.

Dubuque County Old Jail

John F.  Rague designed the Dubuque County Old Jail in the Egyptian Revival Style. Built in 1857-1858 to replace a jail constructed in the 1830s, it is one of only three remaining Egyptian Revival buildings in the United States.  Gray limestone walls, cast iron doors and window frames, and sun disk symbols dominate the building’s style. Serving as a home for the sheriff and family as well as having three tiers of cells for prisoners, the jail also had a curved ceilinged dungeon. Confederate prisoners filled the dungeon during the Civil War. Later a wall was added to shelter an exercise yard.  The Jail closed in 1971. It housed the Dubuque Art Museum until it moved to its new location on Locust Street. Today the Old Jail is owned by the Dubuque Historical Society and houses selected displays.

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