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JEFFERSON HOUSE

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Photo courtesy: Sue and Scott Price
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JEFFERSON HOUSE. The original Jefferson House was constructed in July, 1837 at Main and O'Connell STREETS. The business was operated by T. Fanning and Company.

In 1852, during the excavation for a new building to be owned by Joseph GEHRIG, the body of Patrick O'CONNOR was discovered along with artifacts of Native Americans proving the mound on the property was once a burial site. (1) The construction of the hotel was completed in 1854 and the building was rented to a Mr. Adams who named the hotel the Adams Hotel. He catered to a wealthy trade with rates from $3.50 to $5.00 daily. Gehrig resumed management of the hotel in 1858 or 1859 when he renamed it the Jefferson House honoring the founder of the political party of which Gehrig was a member. (2)

To encourage business, he lowered the rates to $1.00 per day with a twenty-five cent charge for meals. These were not ordinary meals--in quantity or service. Tables seating 50 to 60 people were brought food on huge platters and large bowls. Given the times, the horses that accompanied travelers also had to be provided shelter. Stables for the Jefferson were located on the eastern side of White Street at 7th. (3)

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The Jefferson House on the corner of White and 7th Streets was known as one of the finest hotels in Dubuque and considered the area's "lighthouse" for German and Swiss-German immigrants as it was situated in the heart of that ethnic group in historic Dubuque. The successful business venture later was taken over by Henry GEHRIG, one of Joseph's four sons.

The Gehrig family, despite having sold the property in 1911 as part of the final disposition of the estate of Joseph Gehrig, continued operating the hotel until at least 1916. The 1918 Dubuque City Directory listed John P. Ludowisy as the proprietor of the Jefferson House on White and 7th, but the hotel soon closed. (4) The property was sold to the Sanitary Milk Company and the location was used as a creamery. (5)

The 1859-1860 through 1890-91 Dubuque City Directory listed the corner of White and 7th.

The 1899-1900 through 1918 Dubuque City Directory gave the address of this business as 695 White. The 1911-12 listed the business as the Jefferson Hotel.

In 1921 the SANITARY MILK COMPANY bought the property for a creamery and stayed there until 1943. By 1962 the structure was reduced to two stories.

In 2011 property owner William Feyen approached the county about selling the building. On January 19th the Dubuque Historic Preservation Commission granted a demolition permit. A review of the site by the State Historical Society had found the building had been changed so dramatically it had no historical significance.

See: SMOKESTACK (THE)

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Source:

1. "Inns of Yesterday," Telegraph-Herald and Times-Journal, March 12, 1933, p. 4

2. Ibid.

3. Ibid.

4. The Smokestack Website: http://www.smokestackdbq.com/#!history/c24ml

5. "Inns"

Dubuque City Directories

Mandel, Eric. "County Eyeing Historic Property." Telegraph Herald, January 20, 2012
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