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Encyclopedia Dubuque



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DUBUQUE CLUB. An early ancestor of the DUBUQUE AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE, the Dubuque Club was established in February 1902. Many attempts had been previously made to organize a group that could advertise the commercial advantages of the city. A Board of Trade had been organized in 1854. Attempts were made to obtain better steamboat and railroad connections, but poor economic conditions and the CIVIL WAR led to the group disbanding. In the 1860s the Dubuque Miners' Association and a second Board of Trade were attempted but failed due to a lack of organization. Prior to the Dubuque Club there had been the DUBUQUE COMMERCIAL CLUB.
Leather settee used in the club. Photo courtesy: Jim Massey

On April 23, 1903 President J. W. Conchar received the keys to the Dubuque Club Building at Ninth and Locust. (1) The Dubuque Club occupied a lot upon which had stood a house belonging to Francis Gehon, one Dubuque's first settlers who operated a LEAD smelter with Thomas MCKNIGHT. The building was said to have been cut in half and moved from Peru, north of the city, to the Locust Street site. The Club had torn down the house and had a building constructed costing an estimated $25,000 financed by the Key City Building Association. (2) The Dubuque Club offered a library, kitchen, several large reception rooms, many meeting rooms, a game room and a bowling alley. Senator William Boyd ALLISON offered one of the keynote speeches. The grandeur of the building, he assured the audience, showed that Dubuque had entered a new era of prosperity. On June 2, 1903 President Theodore Roosevelt spoke to ninety-four members assembled around a large banquet table shaped like an "R" decorated with 6,000 carnations and 10,000 roses.

In the same year, the Club originated the idea of an excursion by train of Dubuque businessmen to other regions. Governor A. B. Cummins labeled this practice, the "Dubuque Idea".

The second visiting trip of Dubuque Jobbers, Manufacturers, Bankers and Insurance and Freight Lines was considered a great success. The train included an eight-section compartment and observation car, a sixteen-section sleeper, a tourist sleeper for the band and a combination library and buffet car. Principal stops included West Union, McGregor, Lansing, Elkader, Waukon, Calmar, Oelwein, Decorah, Iowa and Austin and Hayfield, Minnesota.

In 1911 this organization sponsored the Dubuque Industrial Corporation that raised funds to attract the BRUNSWICK-BALKE-COLLENDER COMPANY, the first large industrial firm to locate in the city.

Despite its successes, the Dubuque Club lacked unity and it was replaced by the a new commercial club.



1. "Club is Opened," Dubuque Telegraph Herald, April 24, 1903, p. 8

2. Ibid.




Gibson, Michael, "Yesterday and Today," The Golden View, January 2012

Pamphlet. "Dubuque Area Chamber of Commerce Annual Dinner Celebating Its 60th Anniversary March 31, 1976