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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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STEPHEN HEMPSTEAD HIGH SCHOOL. Planning for the $5.7 million building began in the fall of 1966 with non-teaching, instructional, and administrative personnel encouraged to help design the building. In January, 1967 an estimated $100,000 was spent purchasing forty acres of land along Pennsylvania Avenue and a $6.7 million bond issue was approved in the spring of 1967. (1)

Construction began in the fall of 1968. Classes scheduled to start in the new building in the fall of 1969 were not able to begin until the spring of 1970 due to bad weather and strikes. The official dedication of the building was held on October 25, 1970.

In 1979 Hempstead became the first local high school to win a state team bowling title.

In 1993 the school pioneered the concept in Dubuque of a "summer clinic" for those who needed help or, in some cases, needed credits for class they had failed. (2)

In May 1998 "Mustang Spirit," a sculpture of four spirited mustangs was unveiled at the school as a tribute to retiring principal Don Moody and soon to retire Bill Peck, Hempstead's assistant principal. The idea for the statue came from English teacher Ken Resch. The sculpture was based on a sketch by Hempstead senior Val Barbaro. Contributions came from students in a career orientation program and in National Honor Society. It was assembled with donated time from workers at JOHN DEERE DUBUQUE WORKS, a school partner. (3)

The new look of Hempstead in 2015. Photo courtesy: Dubuque Community School District
Photo courtesy: Dubuque Community School District
Photo courtesy: Dubuque Community School District
Photo courtesy: Dubuque Community School District
Open House/Dedication on October 3, 2015. Photo courtesy: Dubuque Community School District

In June 2015, the $30 million renovation of the high school was running ahead of schedule. Groundbreaking for the renovation and addition began in May 2013. Following the removal of the former auditorium, work on the administration wing began. A new auditorium and two music classrooms were completed near the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year. Work during the summer of 2015 was directed at completing new science classrooms and a business office for the high school in addition to improvement to the gymnasium and the career-and technical education areas. Work for the entire project was funded by a 1-cent sales tax. The work added 141,209-square feet to the building. (4)

In June 2017 a committee of school board members and swim coaches determined that Hempstead should be the location of the district's new swimming pool. Already the location of a pool, Hempstead would have a diving well and eight-lane pool constructed with existing lockers and corridors maintained. The addition was estimated to cost $7.5 million. Also being considered was a competition pool at Eleanor Roosevelt Middle School. (5)

Dubuque Community School District officials announced in September, 2017 a proposed partnership with the Dubuque Area Swimmin’ Hurricanes (DASH) to expand the size of a planned pool. Under the proposal, DASH would have a 25-year agreement in which it could use the pool when it is not in use by the district, and the organization would raise $1 million to cover the cost of expanding the width of the pool from 60 to 75 feet. (6)

School board members phadapproved plans for a eight-lane, 60-foot-wide pool with a diving well. Cost estimates ranged from $7.2 million to $7.5 million. A project architect estimated that expanding the pool to 75 feet in width would add another $1 million to the project cost. A 75-foot-wide pool would allow swimmers to use 14 to 16 lanes. The new pool would use existing locker rooms and corridors. The existing pool would be used until the new one opened. (7)

The wider new pool would allow the Hempstead and Dubuque Senior High School teams to both start practice right after school. That, in turn, would allow DASH teams access to the pool earlier in the day. Over the course of a year, about 225 children were on DASH teams and 650 took swimming lessons. An additional 25 people were in the adult training program. (8)

On March 20, 2018 the Dubuque School Board voted to reject the bids for the proposed swimming pool. All three were between $900,000 and $1.2 million over what was budgeted. The architects were asked for modifications including modification or removal of the “minimum experience requirements” for the pool’s sub-contractor. The pool was be rebid early in April and the original start date for construction was pushed back from June 4th to June 12th. The budget for the pool was $7.6 million, with $400,000 in architectural fees. (9)

On May 14, 2018, the school board voted to approve an $8.45 million bid by Tricon Construction Group for the construction of the pool. The plans called for constructing a pool in a 31,000-square foot addition to the high school. Construction would start as early as June 12, 2018 with completion scheduled by October 2019. (10)

In 2019 two students from Hempstead achieved a "first" in the history of the school. Bryan Keck and Blake Hohmann qualified for the National Speech & Debate Tournament. The two students took one of four spots for the State of Iowa during a national qualifier at Clear Creek Amana High School in Tiffin, Iowa in February. The national tournament on Jun 16-21 was scheduled for Dallas, Texas. (11)

In February, 2019 the Hempstead pool drained so that workers could begin excavation and other work associated with the construction of the new pool. What they found, however, was soil so saturated that it looked like "pudding." As a result of an estimated leakage of 4,000 gallons of water each week, the soil was too wet for the installation of a new sanitary sewer line. The soil would need to be replaced before other work could begin. Construction was estimated to be four months behind schedule. (12)

Photo courtesy: KCRG

On January 21, 2020 the Dubuque Community School District opened its state-of-the-art $9.5 million aquatic center at Hempstead. In a triangular meet, Hempstead defeated Senior 102-62, Cedar Rapids Jefferson 98-71 while Jefferson defeated Senior 94-72. Among the details mentioned by competitors were the greater depth, lane width, and filtration system that kept the water quality better. The pool is 6 feet deep in the shallow end, and 12 feet 6 inches at its deepest. There are eight competitive lanes and touchpads for timing at meets. Two removable diving boards were also installed. (13) The facility which seated 400 people comfortably measured 121 feet by 75 feet and included a portable bulkhead to create different configurations. This would allow multiple teams to practice simultaneously. When the old pool was being used, Hempstead and Senior which both practiced after school had to alternate practice times. (14)


    Richard CORE



1. "Chronology," Telegraph Herald, December 31, 1967, p. 18

2. Krapfl, Mike. "Success Focus of Summer School Clinic," Telegraph Herald, July 2, 1993, p. 3A

3. Krapfl, Mike. "Sculpture Recognizes Moody's Leadership," Telegraph Herald, May 21, 1998, p. 3A. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=aEyKTaVlRPYC&dat=19980521&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

4. Becker, Stacey. "Hempstead's $30 Million Facelift Nears Finish Line," Telegraph Herald, June 5, 2015, p. 1

5. "Site Panel: Put New Pool at Hempstead," Telegraph Herald, June 7, 2017, p. 1A

6. Hinga, Allie. "Dubuque School District, DASH Announce New Swimming Pool Partnership," TH Online. September 11, 2017 Online: http://www.telegraphherald.com/news/tri-state/article_757bc4b9-f22d-5abc-a000-426a2fc8fee7.html

7. Ibid.

8. Ibid.

9. "Hempstead Pool to be Rebid," KDTH March 20, 2018. Online: http://kdth.radiodubuque.com/hempstead-pool-to-be-rebidded/

10. Hinga, Allie. "District Paves Way for Hempstead Pool," Telegraph Herald, May 15, 2018, p. 3A

11. "For 1st Time, Hempstead Debate Students Qualify for National Tourney," Telegraph Herald, February 17, 2019, p. 15A

12. "Hempstead Pool Permanently Closes Early," Telegraph Herald, March 10, 2019, p. 19A

13. Wedlake, Maggie, "New Aquatic Center Officially Opens at Dubuque Hempstead High School," KCRG, Online: https://www.kcrg.com/content/news/New-Aquatic-Center-opens-at-Hempstead-High-School-567184981.html

14. Leitner, Jim, "Well Worth the Wait," Telegraph Herald, January 22, 2020, p. 1B