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Encyclopedia Dubuque


"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


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Bank and Insurance Building
BANK AND INSURANCE BUILDING. Concern that Dubuque was slipping behind other Iowa communities in the availability of modern office space was not made a matter of action until 1893. The IOWA TRUST AND SAVINGS BANK and the DUBUQUE FIRE AND MARINE INSURANCE COMPANY, frustrated in their own search for office space, chose the ambitious project of erecting a building. (1)

A meeting of the board of directors of the two companies in August 1893,led to an agreement that each director would purchase 10 percent of the capital stock if a construction company was organized. In May 1893, five of the principal stockholders in the insurance company and bank Thomas CONNOLLY, Edward A. Engler, Nicholas J. SCHRUP, Sr., James H. SHIELDS, and Frank D. STOUT- purchased the Cox lot on the northwest corner of Ninth and Main STREETS. In July 1894, the Wells-Ham lot adjacent to the other property was purchased. This created a lot 102 feet by 114 feet for construction.

Photo courtesy: Bob Reding
On August 15, 1894, at a meeting in the office of the insurance company, the Bank and Insurance Office Building Company was organized with capital stock of $250,000. The five businessmen who had purchased the property were chosen to be the company's board of directors. (2) W. W. Boyington and Company of Chicago was chosen the architect. Construction, started on September 5,1894, was completed so that the first tenants were settled by Thanksgiving, 1895. The Bank and Insurance Building was the pride of the whole city. Ten thousand people attended the reception when it was thrown open for inspection.

The building constructed of fire-proof clay hollow tiles was seven stories high with a full basement. It housed 200 offices as well as stores and bank rooms. The interior was decorated with white enameled brick and yellow glazed terra cotta. Known later as the Fischer Building, the structure was partially owned by Iowa Trust and Savings Bank that had its offices on the ground level. Special notice was made of the bank's safety deposit boxes. Unique in Iowa, the boxes were considered burglar-proof with two-inch steel linings. (3)

In December, 1914 the city council passed a smoke abatement ordinance. This caused the owners of the building which "formerly had one of the smokiest chimneys in the city" to install steam furnaces. The result was described as a "complete abatement of the smoke." The new system provided enough steam for the office building and the post office building across the alley. (4)

AMERICAN TRUST AND SAVINGS BANK operated from the building from 1934 until 1945 when it moved into its present building.

Ashtray. Photo courtesy: Bob Reding
Oct. 27, 1901 advertisement



1. "Bank and Insurance Building," Dubuque Daily Herald, December 29, 1895, p. 2

2. "Getting Down to Business," Dubuque Daily Herald, August 16, 1894, p. 4.

3. "Best in the State," Telegraph Herald, January 25, 1962, p. 20

4. "No More Smoke at Beach's Factory," The Telegraph Herald, January 3, 1915, p. 13