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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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DUBUQUE COMMERCIAL CLUB. The Dubuque Commercial Club was announced to the public on December 20, 1885. A social and business organization, the organization had club rooms on the second and third stories on the west side of Main Street midway between 9th and 10th in the Kistler Building. On the second floor are the reception, card, and business rooms opening into each other. The rooms were furnished with the suitable furniture and could be separated with sliding doors. Back of these was a large reading room. This too had suitable chairs and tables with issues of the local newspapers, Congressional Record, two or three Chicago dailies, a New York daily, Harpers and Frank Leslie's weeklies, and Puck. The business room was provided with club stationery and other writing materials. The third floor was occupied with billiard tables with a fee charged of ten cents per game. (1)

The articles of association stated that the organization was formed to "preserve the honor and dignity of commercial pursuits and to cultivate and advance social intercourse among its members." Control of the organization resided in the executive committee, excepting the treasurer, and seven additional members. This group controlled the admittance and expulsion of members, regulation of the club house, and other matters. Charter members were assessed $20.00 although only ten dollars was actually collected. Future initiates were charged $25.00 and the annual dues were $10.00. The regular membership was set at 200 members with anyone 25 years of age and a resident of Dubuque for at least six months eligible. (2)

The rooms of the Commercial Club were open for the use of other organizations.

In 1886 with 140 members, the Club announced that it would be constructing a $15,000 club house on the corner of 9th and Locust. The building would contain reading and card rooms, parlors, billiard rooms, private parlors, and wardrobes. There was also to be a "dancing apartment" and refreshment or dining hall. (3) In 1895 a dispute whether alcohol should be sold on the premises, along with other grievances, led the group to disband. (4)

In 1915 the organization' accomplishments included the "Iowa's Prosperity Exposition." (5) The organization was also given the credit for attracting at least twelve conventions to the city, materially aiding the creation of a county tuberculosis hospital, and the creation of a bathing beach at EAGLE POINT. A "Buy-at-Home" campaign and a "Clean-Up and Paint-Up Week" were judged further successes. The Club was credited with obtaining better mail service between Dubuque, Mason City and the northwest portion of Iowa and with establishing a relief fund for the GOVERNOR'S GREYS when they were posted on the Mexican border. (6)

Membership quickly rose from 200 to 900 members. Organizations including the DUBUQUE AUTOMOBILE CLUB, Shipper's Association and the Traveling Men's Club joined to benefit the city.

On February 16, 1920, the members of the Commercial Club voted to approve a change in its name. From then on, the organization was known as the DUBUQUE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE. The group later purchased the former Dubuque Club building from the Key City Association. This resulted in the Dubuque Chamber of Commerce being one of the few chambers of commerce in the United States to own a modern building for business, social and recreational activities.

The Chamber remained in the location until May, 1964 when it sold the building to the city for $65,00 and temporarily relocated to the sixth floor of the Fischer Building. The building was demolished and the space converted to a parking ramp.



1. "Commercial Club," Dubuque Daily Herald, Dec. 20, 1885, p. 8

2. Ibid.

3. "Dubuque Commercial Club," Dubuque Daily Herald, Sept. 28, 1886, p. 4

4. "The New Club," Dubuque Daily Herald, December 7, 1895, p. 4

5. "Dubuque Commercial Club Rounds Out Successful Year," Telegraph Herald, Feb. 4, 1917, p. 11

6. Ibid.

Gibson, Mike. Yesterday and Today. The Golden View, January, 2012