Exploring Dubuque: Coalescing Community Through Architectural Preservation

Steeple Square –  St. Mary’s Church on our tour of Dubuques architectural treasures

A Preservation Motor Coach Tour

The Iowa Architectural Foundation is pleased to announce an exclusive architectural tour to Dubuque on November 2 and 3, 2019. On this tour, we’ll take a dive into Dubuque’s impressive array of historic preservation projects. We’ll hear the “behind the scenes” stories from local experts who are integrally involved in the successful transformation of this Mississippi River city with 17 National Register Districts and 43 individually listed properties. The preservation movement is inspiring people from all around to get involved in restoring the community – and compelling those who have left, to come home.

Saturday, November 2

Our motor coach tour will launch from Des Moines at the crack of dawn on Saturday, November 2, with a 56-passenger Windstar luxury motor coach. IAF’s tour leaders Ryan Ellsworth, AIA and Paula Mohr, PhD, Architectural Historian, State Historical Society of Iowa, will present an  introduction to the history and architecture of Dubuque en route.

We’ll make a quick stop in Cedar Rapids to pick up additional passengers, then make our way to Dubuque, where we will arrive at Tony Roma’s on the water for lunch. We’ll set out for a walking tour of the Port of Dubuque, including the Star Brewery, Shot Tower and Grand River Center, followed by a tour of the Historic Millwork District. Both tours will be led by led by Jason Neises of the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque and Duane Hagerty, CEO of Heritage Works.  Mary Gronen, VP of Gronen, a restoration and real estate development company, will provide a private tour of the Voices Building/Dupaco Project, currently being rehabilitated.

We’ll then check into the recently-rehabilitated Hotel Julien, built in 1913. The Julien is an elegant boutique hotel that marries modern amenities with a fascinating history in the heart of the Old Main District. We’ve negotiated a special room rate of $155 for our group (see details at the end). After unpacking and refreshing we’ll meet back up at 5 PM, when we’ll motor coach it back to the Millwork District for an exclusive cocktail reception sponsored by Pigott, the interior office design and Herman Miller dealer, in their new office space in the award-winning Schmid Innovation Center. After the party, choose one of Dubuque’s fine restaurants for dinner on your own.

Sunday, November 3

On Sunday morning, a hearty breakfast will be provided to our group at Hotel Julien, followed by a tour of Steeple Square, the fabulous 1867 Gothic Revival church with its newly restored 220 foot steeple and stained glass windows. The church tour will include some areas rarely seen by visitors including basement, choir loft and portions of the tower. We will also enjoy a downtown walking tour, led by Duane Hagerty and Jason Neises. At 11 AM we’ll leave on the motor coach for a driving tour of the 11th Street Historic District, a quick drive by the Brewing & Malting Building and on to Eagle Point Park to see the Prairie School Pavilions by noted landscape architect Alfred Caldwell, where we’ll enjoy a box lunch. Our last treat is an exclusive tour by Andrew and Emily McCready, owners of the Historic Bradley Mansion, where the firm 563 Architecture is located. We’ll  be back in Des Moines by 5:30 PM.

Registration, Fee and Details

Registration and more details at Eventbrite. Your fee of $165 includes round trip and in-town transportation with educational program on the motor coach, snacks, lunch at Tony Roma’s, guided tours of commercial and residential architectural sites, social hour at Pigott in the Millwork District, Sunday breakfast and boxed lunch. Hotel is NOT included. (information follows below)


Ryan Ellsworth, AIA, Champion
OPN Architects (Des Moines)
Ryan Ellsworth is the organizer and champion for IAF’s Dubuque tour.  Ryan is a licensed architect, having practiced in New York, Chicago and Des Moines. Since joining OPN Architects early in 2014, Ryan has been involved in many projects, including Principal Financial Group renovation and Krause Gateway Center. Ryan is on the Board of Trustees of the Iowa Architectural Foundation. He is one of IAF’s most active volunteers, serving as a guide for Architecture on the Move summer walking tours of downtown Des Moines and many corporate and organizational tours.

Emily Hilgendorf, AIA, Co-Champion
FEH Architects (Dubuque)
Chair, Preservation Commission, City of Dubuque

Emily Hilgendorf is the co-champion of the tour and the “boots on the ground” for IAF in Dubuque. She graduated in 2015 from Iowa State University with a Bachelors of Architecture, a Minor in Sustainability and an emphasis in historic preservation.  She is a licensed architect and has been working for FEH Design in Dubuque for four years.  She currently volunteers as the chair of the Historic Preservation Commission for the City of Dubuque.

Paula Mohr, Architectural Historian
State Historic Preservation Office

Paula is a fourth-generation Iowan and a second-generation preservationist with an interest in historic buildings that began as a child, when her parents rehabilitated an 1868 schoolhouse. She’s held curatorial and preservation positions at the National Trust, the White House, the National Park Service and the U.S. Treasury. In 2005, Paula returned to Iowa to work as the Certified Local Government Coordinator and Architectural Historian for the SHPO, where she directs the local preservation program. Paula is an alumna of the University of Iowa, the Cooperstown Graduate Program in Museum Studies and the University of Virginia, where she earned her Ph.D. in architectural history. She is a valued IAF volunteer, leading walking tours and trips to architectural points of interest such as Mason City for its Prairie School architecture and Oskaloosa for its Mid-Century Modern homes.

Duane Hagerty
CEO, Heritage Works

Duane Hagerty is a historic preservation consultant, architectural historian and an attorney who is currently the CEO of Heritage Works, Inc., a Dubuque nonprofit focusing on historic preservation as a driver of community revitalization and economic development.  Duane grew up near Dubuque, Iowa and has lived in Minneapolis, Des Moines and Chicago.  He relocated back to Dubuque in June of 2015 to lead Heritage Works.  He enjoys assisting property owners in planning historic redevelopment projects.  Duane is also currently restoring his own 1870s Second Empire row house at the corner of 11th and Main in downtown Dubuque.

Mary Gronen
Vice President, Gronen 

Mary is the Vice President of Gronen, a catalyst for community. The company visions, plans, and partners to lead the development process and execute historic rehabilitation projects that are purpose-driven, sustainable, and socially meaningful. The company has expertise in real estate development, layering complicated funding sources, tax credits and property management. Gronen has garnered numerous awards over the past 25+ years on the local, state, and national levels, including the prestigious Tony Goldman Award | National Trust for Historic Preservation for the transformation of the Schmid Innovation Center | CARADCO Lofts.

Jason Neises
Heart & Soul Coordinator, Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque

A Dubuque native, Jason Neises returned to his hometown about 8 years ago after working at various jobs across the country, including running the tour & volunteer program at the Chicago Architecture Foundation. Jason actively volunteers with Heritage Works and the Dubuque Museum of Art to lead tours and other programs that promote the city’s architectural treasures. Jason lives on a small farm north of Dubuque with his wife Erin and two boys

Claudia Cackler
Executive Director, IAF

Claudia has thirty some years of successful non-profit and development experience. She developed a passion for architecture early in her career when she headed AIA Iowa and directed the Sherman Hill Historic District. She has rehabilitated nine homes, dating from 1876 to 1923. As the sole staff for IAF, she is personally involved in everything the organization achieves – strategy, programming, planning and development.

 Hotel Reservations at Hotel Julien Dubuque

Reserve a room in the block for the IAF Dubuque Tour. Price is $155 per room. Individual reservations may be made by contacting Hotel Julien Dubuque directly at (800)798-7098 or (563)556-4200. Tell them you are part of the Iowa Architectural Foundation (IAF) group. Block includes both 1 King and 2 Queen rooms.  You cannot make on line reservations for this discounted block. A valid credit card number is required at the time of booking.  For this rate make your reservation before October 3. If you need to cancel your hotel reservation, please contact hotel at least 48 hours prior to the scheduled arrival date to avoid a penalty equal to one night’s lodging and tax which will be charged to your credit card.