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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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Central High School

CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL. Former administration building of the DUBUQUE COMMUNITY SCHOOL DISTRICT. Once one of Dubuque's grandest examples of RICHARDSONIAN ROMANESQUE ARCHITECTURE,Central High School stood at 15th and Locust STREETS.

Completed in 1895, the school was designed by Freeport, Illinois, architect G. S. Mansfield. The popular Fridolin HEER lost the contract, it was believed, because his recently completed DUBUQUE COUNTY COURTHOUSE had cost more than his estimate. Strangely, the school board overlooked the fact that Mansfield was involved in a similar dispute over the Clinton County Courthouse that had cost nearly double his estimate of $35,000. Records do not indicate whether Mansfield built Central High School within his cost estimates.

Central High School was constructed of coarse cut Wisconsin red sandstone with massive arches and a soaring clock tower. The interior of the building featured maple and oak woodwork.

Sterling silver spoon.

The building's ventilation system received special attention. A huge fan, operated from the basement, pulled in fresh air and forced it through pipes. The air was piped into the classrooms with such force that it was said illness-causing drafts from windows were eliminated. Other pipes funneled off "impure" air.

In 1906 a telephone system was installed before the beginning of the school year. This allowed teachers to communicate with the principal's office and the janitor. Prior to the start of school, the faculty hosted a reception for the entering pupils and their parents. (1)

In 1923 the first class to graduate from DUBUQUE SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL carried their books from Central, then called Dubuque High School, up West Locust to the new high school where they completed their last three months of class.

Following the building's use as the public school and the district's administration office, the structure housed the CENTRAL ALTERNATIVE HIGH SCHOOL until June 1983. On May 9, 1983, Behr Funeral Home, the only bidder for the property, purchased the building and the adjoining parking lot for $35,000.

Despite its placement on the NATIONAL REGISTER OF HISTORIC PLACES, the building's continued deterioration led to it being demolished. The site of the school in 1992 was a parking lot. (Photo Courtesy: http://www.dubuquepostcards.com)



1. "Telephone System Installed," Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, September 3, 1906, p. 2