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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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CITY AUDITORIUM. In 1929 the Chamber of Commerce board of directors appointed three important committees, according to an editorial by writers of the Telegraph-Herald. The city auditorium committee was to "devise a practical plan for financing and operating an auditorium for conventions and expositions." The writers mentioned that much conversation about the topic had been heard in the prior four years, and that the newspaper was definitely in support of it. (1)

The newspaper call was repeated after hearing that the New York Times had a similar interest in an auditorium for New York City. The editorial writers of the Telegraph-Herald commented

              That's in the great city of New York. And as New York
              is bothered, so has Dubuque been bothered for a long,
              long time. Lets hope the day is not far distant when
              Dubuque will have a "city auditorium" for such uses
              are the New York Times points out. (2)

When large rooms were needed to programs, the public school district was often called upon. In 1952 the Junior Chamber of Commerce was granted the right to use the WASHINGTON JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL auditorium while the Veterans of Foreign Wars used the auditorium at DUBUQUE SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL. (3)

The same year when discussion of a municipal stadium came before the Dubuque City Council, it was determined that the site for the stadium be large enough for adequate parking space and include an area where a city auditorium could be constructed later. (4) The school district in April, 1950 cited the interest of the public in having an auditorium for a rationale supporting its upcoming bond issue. The board proposed to permit the use of a new gymnasium-auditorium at Senior for "commendable community activities." Such activities, according the educational officials would include dramatics, musical programs, athletic contests, conventions and exhibits. (5)

In 1960 a group of WAHLERT CATHOLIC HIGH SCHOOL announced that if the city did not look better to them in the next few years they would leave. Among other responses, the students mentioned a community center and a new BASEBALL park. Most wanted a city auditorium. (6)

A feasibility study to determine whether Dubuque needed or wanted a civic auditorium began in September, 1967 at the first meeting of the DUBUQUE AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE. Dr. George Ehlhardt, committee chairperson, that the Chamber wanted answers to the following questions: (7)

               1. What is the need for a public auditorium to
                  serve the Dubuqueland area?
               2. What is the public sentiment about such a
               3. What type of structure would best serve the
                  city's needs.
               4. What are the potential users of n auditorium?
               5. What are the projected costs of the facility?
               6. Who should manage the auditorium?
               7. Would private subscriptions be available to
                  assist public funds in the venture?

In June, 1971 a fund raising survey suggested that Dubuque would contribute $1.5 million to build a civic center using the Orpheum Theater as a nucleus. The end result was the FIVE FLAGS CIVIC CENTER



1. "Three Chamber Committees," Telegraph-Herald, September 5, 1926, p. 6

2. "Wanted, a City Auditorium," Telegraph-Herald and Times-Journal, June 19, 1931 p. 31

3. "School Census to be Taken," Telegraph-Herald, September 9, 1952, p. 2

4. "Park Board Gives OK on Stadium," Telegraph-Herald, June 9, 1950, p. 1

5. "School Board 100 Pct. Back of Bond Issue," Telegraph0Herald, April 30, 1950, p. 17

6. Glaettli, Herb, "Preps Tell City's Needs," Telegraph-Herald, February 7, 1960, p. 9

7. "City Auditorium Study Launched," Telegraph-Herald, September 27, 1967, p. 3