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Encyclopedia Dubuque

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




CENTENNIAL CROSS

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CENTENNIAL CROSS. The Centennial Cross was constructed south of Dubuque to commemorate the centennial of the ARCHDIOCESE OF DUBUQUE. Some questions remain as to who paid the $2,500 cost of construction. It is believed the KNIGHTS OF COLUMBUS Council 510, ARCHDIOCESE OF DUBUQUE and St. Joseph's Parish each contributed. (1) It is known that the KNIGHTS OF COLUMBUS Council 510, through monthly dinners and donations, paid for the maintenance of the cross by the Lange Sign Company of East Dubuque, Illinois. (2)

The galvanized steel cross stood seventy-five feet high and the cross piece is 25 feet wide. It is anchored to an 8X8 concrete pedestal and occupies less than 400 square feet of archdiocesan property. In 1963, the Knights of Columbus added turquoise neon lights to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the founding of the diocese. Installed by FRANK HARDIE ADVERTISING INC., the combined length of the neon tubes is 246 feet. The lights are turned on by a photo-electric cell. A timer turns the lights off at midnight. (3)

In 2014 the monthly cost of electricity and maintenance for the Cross was $64.00. Funds raised came from prime rib dinners served every third Saturday at the Knights of Columbus Hall. A ten dollar membership in a Key Cross Club membership also was a fundraiser. It was estimated that the cost to upgrade the structure's lighting to LED lights would be $16,000. (4)

Following the article in December 2014, attendance at the fundraiser increased dramatically. In addition, the Knights received donations. One came from the family of Louis R. Hendricks. While an employee of Frank Hardie Advertising Inc., Hendricks created the original neon for the cross and claimed it was one of the three top signs he made in Dubuque. (5)

On December 27, 2023 officials announced that construction was expected to start soon on the Centennial Cross in Key West. A new and taller "blue cross" will replace the original. The new cross will be lit on both sides with LED lighting and stand 137 feet tall.

Centennial Cross Incorporated has raised more than $150,000 of the $350,000 goal to pay for the construction and cost of future maintenance. The group also announced plans to build a permanent display in MOUNT OLIVET CEMETERY to tell the history of the cross and list individuals and businesses donating $10,000 or more to the project. (6)

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Source:

1. "Action Line," Telegraph-Herald, November 24, 1968, p. 21

2. Day, Mike. "Knights Aim to Keep Cross Aglow." Telegraph Herald, December 19, 2014, p. 1A

3. Ibid.

4. Day

5. "Attendance Up for Centennial Cross Fundraiser," Telegraph Herald, January 19, 2015, p. 3A

6. "Historic Cross Near Dubuque to be Renovated," KCRG. Online. December 27, 2023