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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.”
Marshall Cohen—researcher and producer, CNN

Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


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LIMESTONE. Most limestone is composed of grains. Most of these grains are the skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as coral or foraminifera. Other carbonate grains comprising limestones come from ooids, peloids, intraclasts, and extraclasts. These organisms secrete shells made of aragonite or calcite, and leave these shells behind after the organisms die. (1)

Limestone is commonly used in building, especially in Europe and North America. Many landmarks across the world, including the Great Pyramid and its associated complex in Giza, Egypt, are made of limestone. So many buildings in Kingston, Ontario, Canada were constructed from it that it is nicknamed the 'Limestone City'. Limestone is readily available and relatively easy to cut into blocks or more elaborate carving. It is also long-lasting and stands up well to exposure. However, it is a very heavy material, making it impractical for tall buildings, and relatively expensive as a building material. (2)

Limestone was most popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Train stations, banks and other structures from that era are normally made of limestone. It is used as a facade on some skyscrapers, but only in thin plates for covering, rather than solid blocks. (3)

In 1834 while the Methodists were constructing the first church in Dubuque, native limestone was being used in the construction of a stone warehouse near the foot of Second Street. This is the first recorded use of this material in the construction of a Dubuque building. (4)





1. "Limestone" Wikipedia. Online: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Limestone

2. Ibid.

3. Ibid.

4. Sommer, Lawrence J. The Heritage of Dubuque-An Architectural View," East Dubuque: Tel Graphics, 1975, p. 34