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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.


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Saint Mary's Casino
Although then not a school, the Class of 1947 used the famous building as a backdrop of this picture. Photo courtesy: Telegraph Herald

ST. MARY'S CASINO. Constructed under the leadership of Rev. Clement Johannes, the Casino had its grand opening on April 15, 1901 and was illuminated "from pit to dome." The featured speaker was Nicholas GONNER, Jr., the newly elected national president of the Central Society of America. Constructed at a cost of $40,000, the Casino was planned as a place to provide wholesome activity for parish youth. (1) To celebrate its opening, a St. Mary's Casino Fair was scheduled for two weeks with a program every evening. There was prize bowling with $75.00 in prizes. Supper was served at the hall every evening from 5:30-7:30 with admission of ten cents. There was a ladies' card party on Saturday at 3:00 p.m. (2)

The basement was used as a gymnasium and bowling alley. A league with several teams had been formed by July. (3) The main floor was the scene of card playing and billiards. The upstairs contained an elaborate auditorium. On November 24, 1901 the children of St. Mary's School presented their first performance of songs, drills, "declamations" and a comical play. (4) Two gym classes were held each week for the men and two for the children. Occasionally the classes would perform in the auditorium.

In 1906 it was announced that smaller rooms on two of the floors would be converted into a high school for girls. It was the intention that "only the higher branches will be taught, but instruction also be given in the more useful things, such as needle work." (5)

The auditorium continued to be used for presentations: "The Double," (play-1911); motion pictures, 1912; "Socialism," (lecture-1915); "From the Manger to the Cross," (motion picture, 1916); "Freedom for Ireland," (rally-1921); "Every Family Has One" (play-1949). In 1920 the local organization of the Daughters of Isabella, the largest in Iowa, had a membership of three hundred women after a class of fifty-eight were initiated at the Casino. The 50th anniversary of LaSalle Court Catholic Order of Foresters was celebrated at the Casino in 1944.

Under the direction of Anthony SIGWARTH (Monsignor), the interior of the Casino was completely removed in 1958 and the exterior was covered with "porcelainized" aluminum panels to give it a "modern look." The architects were Durrant and Berquist. The new fireproof structure housed eight classrooms, a gymnasium-auditorium, an office, library, health room, kitchen and large lunch and meeting room. (6) The new school was blessed by Archbishop Leo BINZ on April 5, 1959.





1. "A Grand Sight," The Dubuque Daily Telegraph, April 16, 1901, p. 3

2. "St. Mary's Casino Fair," Dubuque Daily Telegraph, April 26, 1901, p. 2

3. "Sporting World," Dubuque Daily Telegraph, July 14, 1901, p. 2

4. "To Appear on the Stage," Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, November 24, 1901, p. 9

5. "Catholic High School to Open," Telegraph-Herald, August 26, 1906, p. 16

6. "St. Mary's Hall to be Rebuilt," Telegraph-Herald, March 9, 1958, p. 10 [[Category: Schools/Universities/Colleges