CITY HOTEL. Famed Dubuque landmark on the northwest corner of Fourth and Main STREETS, the hotel was erected in 1840 by Emerson and Childs and was called the ATHENAEUM. In 1846 the building was renovated, enlarged, and called the City Hotel by Richard Plumbe. In 1859, the City Hotel was redecorated and renamed the Peosta House. (1) The name was changed twice within the next three years - Peosta Hall and Our New Hall. William G. STEWART purchased the building and began converting the Hall into Dubuque's fifth major theater in 1863. (2)
In 1864 the facility reopened as the Athenaeum Theater. In its heyday, the Athenaeum hosted some of America's finest legitimate theater talent. The Athenaeum, however ceased to attract star performers when the GRAND OPERA HOUSE was built. (3)
Charles H. EIGHMEY and John R. Waller purchased, refurbished, and reopened the Athenaeum as the Duncan-Waller Opera House in late 1877. An appeal was made to the public for its support leading to $5000 in tickets being sold for the first performance. (4) The interior was lighted by fifty gas jets and an equal number under a calcium reflector in the dome. There was seating for 1,200. (5) The Opera House was a thriving operation until 1893, when it again changed names and became the Main Street Opera House. (6)
The name "City Hotel" went on to be used at other sites in the community:
The 1873-74 Dubuque City Directory listed the north side of 1st 3 west of Main.
The 1874-1875 Dubuque City Directory stated that this business was located on Clay between 5th and 6th.
The 1880 through 1886-87 Dubuque City Directory listed 553 White.
1. "Dubuque Before 1880," Telegraph Herald, November 2, 1933. p. 7. Online: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=BABCAAAAIBAJ&sjid=U6oMAAAAIBAJ&pg=1340,4189885&dq=lumber+yard+fires+dubuque&hl=en
2. "Theater At Fourth and Main: A Rich and Vivid Tradition," Online: http://fiveflagscenter.com/AboutUs/History.aspx