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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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HISTORIC PRESERVATION ORDINANCE. After a period of URBAN RENEWAL in the community and a recognition of the damage that had been done, the Dubuque City Council passed a Historic Preservation Ordinance in 1977 and formed a Historic Preservation Commission in 1979. (1)

Residents of Third and Alpine STREETS seemed willing in May 1979 to have their neighborhood become the first historical preservation district in the city. The historic preservation commission would recommend the request for designation as an historic district to the city council after the petition was received. The designation would be made if no objections were made. The Third and Alpine neighborhood was the first of seven in the city intended for the designation created by the Dubuque Historical Preservation Commission chaired by C. George BIASI. The preservation ordinance was the first of its kind in Iowa. (2)

Bruce Kriviskey, former city planner in Galena, Illinois and consultant to the commission, explained the homeowners needed a certificate of appropriateness from the preservation commission if changes were planned to the exterior of their homes. If the homeowner's plan were rejected, the commission and homeowner would establish alternatives. The preservation ordinance did not require improvements to a building. The ordinance was intended to protect the neighborhood from new construction not compatible with the existing buildings. Violators were subject to 30 days in jail or a fine up to $100. (3)

Guidelines adapted from the federal departments of the Interior and Housing and Urban Development included: (4)

1) Every reasonable effort shall be made to use the original building for its intended purpose or a compatible one.

2) The original or existing quality of a building and its environment shall not be destroyed.

3) All buildings, structures and sites should be products of their own time. All buildings having no historical significance that try to portray an earlier period should be discouraged.

4) Changes that may have occurred in time are evidence of development. These changes have their own significance and shall be respected for that.

5) Distinctive stylistic features or exterior skillcraft of a site shall be treated with sensitivity.

6) Deteriorated original features shall be repaired rather than replaced whenever possible.

7) Surface cleaning of structures should be done as gently as possible. Methods that damage, such as sandblasting, shall not be undertaken.

8) Contemporary design for new structures and additions to existing property is not discouraged when they are compatible with the existing structure.



1. Davis, Lisa Selin, "Heart & Soul," Preservation: The Magazine of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Fall, 2018, p. 36

2. Yeager, Kim. "Third-Alpine Area Welcomes Historic Designation, Telegraph Herald, May 23, 1979, p. 8

3. Ibid.

4. Ibid.