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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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ECUMENICAL TOWER. Opened in November 1975, Ecumenical Tower on Locust Street southeast of WASHINGTON PARK was the dream of Ecumenical Housing Inc., led by Rev. Thomas RHOMBERG and composed of the Council of Churches and Catholic Charities. (1)

In February 1972, the City Council rejected, by a 3-2 vote, a request from Ecumenical Housing to purchase the needed land. Local landlords opposed to the plan pointed to a high vacancy rate in the local market. There was also a reluctance to use urban renewal land for anything other than commercial purposes.

In 1973 the Council reversed its decision. In a 4-1 vote, Ecumenical Housing was sold one-quarter acre on the southeast corner of 6th and Locust STREETS for $51,288. Construction began after $400,000 was collected from local individuals, churches, and businesses. A mortgage guarantee of $1.7 million came from the Federal Housing Administration toward the total cost of $2.25 million. (2)

By 1974 construction of multi-family dwellings in Dubuque slumped. Building permits were issued for 154 multi-family units in Dubuque. However, 112 of these were in Ecumenical Tower which was restricted to low-income elderly and handicapped people. (3) In 1974 the City Council gave Ecumenical Housing $100,000 in revenue-sharing funds with the understanding that no attempt would be made to apply for tax-exempt status for seven years. Groundbreaking took place on August 1st with Mayor Allan THOMS turning the first spade of dirt. (4)

In 1978 Ecumenical Tower paid $40,000 in taxes. The same year there existed a waiting list of two hundred people who met the annual income guidelines of no more than $4,000 for an individual, $4,700 for a couple, and no more than $5,000 in assets. (5)

The building was still being used in 2017.



1. "Final Fund Drive Being Considered by Ecumenical Tower Sponsors," Telegraph Herald, July 20, 1975, p. 5

2. Ibid.

3. Fyten, David. "City's Apartment Squeeze Unabated," Telegraph Herald, Deceber 31, 1974, p. 1

4. Meyer, Jeff. "Remembering 1974," Telegraph Herald, August 1, 1978, p. 4C

5. "Final Fund Drive..."