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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.


From Encyclopedia Dubuque
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Photo courtesy: Bob Reding
Julien House circa 1884. Photo courtesy: William K. Hammel

HOTEL JULIEN DUBUQUE. The site at Second and Main has been the location of an inn or hotel since 1844. The WAPLES HOUSE, the original building, had a sixty-four foot frontage on Main Street extending to an alley at the rear and was four stories tall. (1) The first floor was devoted to a store with the rest reserved for the hotel. (2) It bore the name of its owner Peter WAPLES, a well-to-do Dubuque merchant.


In 1854 reconstruction, under the new ownership of a Mr. Burton and a Mr. Finlay, doubled the capacity of the hotel, renamed the JULIEN HOUSE, to eighty rooms. The ownership of the hotel changed again in 1867 when it was purchased by W. W. WOODWORTH and his son-in-law, Dr. Charles A Reed. Remodeling in 1873 provided a four-story addition along Iowa Street. (3) An interesting factor in this remodeling was that the hotel's dining room was placed on the hotel's main floor with the entrance on the corner of Second and Iowa. It was placed this way because it was the custom of passenger trains coming to town to stop at Second and Iowa to allow passengers to go to the hotel for breakfast, lunch or dinner. (4)

The hotel was developed through enlargements made onto the original Waples House. Eventually the front section was torn down and replaced by a more modern structure. The rear section remained.Intent on keeping ahead of the competition, the Julien management had arrangements made for a branch office of the Western Union Telegraph Company to be opened in the hotel in 1877. (5) Eventually the old and new sections of the hotel were both destroyed by fire. (6)

On February 14, 1889 an estimated forty of the subscribers to the stock for the "new" Julien House met to elect officers. Mayor George Benjamin BURCH informed the group that he, Frank D. STOUT, and Bart B. LINEHAN had purchased the property for $60,000 after the urging of others who believed the city needed a new hotel. A committee of three presented the articles of incorporation. The purpose of the organization was the purchase, rebuilding, enlargement and operation of the Julien House. (6)

Construction began after $50,000 was subscribed for the project from local investors. (7) The business of constructing the new building was carried out through The New Julien House Company organized on February 14, 1889 with directors including Augustin A. COOPER, Frank D. STOUT, Thomas CONNOLLY, Jacob RICH, Bart E. LINEHAN, James H. SHIELDS and George Benjamin BURCH. (7) The initial officers were George Burch, president; B. E. Linehan, vice-president; F. D. Stout, secretary; and Jacob Rich, treasurer. (8) The building, renamed the Hotel Julien, was a proud landmark in Dubuque that was not only an important center of commerce but a rival to Chicago hotels in size.

Beginning in September 1891, boys working at the hotel wore uniforms of a dark blue trouser and coat with a gold cord running down the outside seam of the trousers. In order to differentiate the type of work done, the messenger boys would have one gold stripe on the cuff of the coat. Coat room boys would have two stripes and elevator boys would have three. (9)

In December 23, 1891 the DUBUQUE ELECTRIC RAILWAY, LIGHT AND POWER COMPANY signed a contract with hotel officials to convert the lighting from gas to electric effective January 1, 1892. Gas would continue to be used on the upper floors until fixtures were installed. (10) The rotunda was lighted with arc and incandescent lights and the dining room and parlor floors were lighted with incandescent. In September 1893 the DUBUQUE LIGHT AND TRACTION COMPANY signed a contract with the hotel's owners to bring incandescent lights to every room in the hotel doing away with gas completely. (11)

In 1892 Charles Wales, the hotel manager, asked Thomas E. LOFTUS, then managing the Cincinnati baseball team, to take over the management of the hotel bar during the off-season. Loftus partnered in this business with Arthur O'Malley, Jr. whose father had operated a wholesale and retail liquor store on Main between 7th and 8th STREETS. With Loftus around, many of the great names in sports made the frequent stops to Dubuque and the Julien. (12)

Dinner menu from September 21, 1906. Photo courtesy: Bob Reding
Dining room of the old Julien Hotel. Photo courtesy: Bob Reding
Unknown metal item.

In 1894 tile floors were laid in the hallways leading from the ladies' entrance and office to the dining room which was decorated and carpeted. Waitresses were uniformed. (13)

Fire destroyed the Julien Hotel on April 13, 1913, with an estimated loss of $294,000. As debris was being hauled away for the creation of the DUBUQUE ATHLETIC FIELD, a group of local businessmen, including William Harrison DAY, Sr., George McLean, and Dorrance Dixon MYERS organized the Dubuque Hotel Company and construction led to the grand reopening of a new hotel, Julien Dubuque. (14) The expected cost was $450,000. (15)

The hotel was leased in March, 1915 to the Keenan Hotel Company which operated several hotels in the Middle West. The lease was on the gross receipts basis where the lessee guaranteed to the Dubuque Hotel Company certain annual minimum returns which increased annually up to the year 1920. (16) The 1920 guarantee remained good for twenty years the Keenan Hotel Company would have the preference for renewal. It then passed to A. A. Cooper, Jr. (17)

In 1916 in a unique chapter in Dubuque history, the hotel offered the people of Dubuque artesian well water from a well in the empty lot at the rear of their building. The taste of the local water was poor. The hotel stated the well was over 3,000 feet deep and the water "absolutely pure."

In 1927 the minority stockholders of the hotel brought legal action against the successors of A. A. Cooper charging that while the hotel was making a good profit they were not sharing in it. Included in the charges were the Coopers had profited by making loans at high interest to the hotel corporation, received exorbitant salaries, and had keep financial records that were "unintelligible." A full accounting of the business was requested. The trial began on December 13, 1927 with the defendants asking for a change of venue. (18) By December 20th, however, the case was dismissed without prejudice. An option to purchase their stock was offered by the Coopers. (19) A.A. Cooper, Jr. moved to Fort Wayne, Indiana to operate a family hotel. (20)

Dubuque ownership of the hotel slipped away in 1928 when Harold Hayes of Chicago purchased the A. A. Cooper controlling interest in the stock of the hotel company. (21) The interests of nearly all the minority stockholders were purchased as well with the exception of sixty shares held by several people in Dubuque. The purchase was made possible through an option given Mr. Hayes by the Cooper interests, owners of 55% of the hotel stock, after the withdrawal of a court action begun by minority stockholders and the Chicago interests. Mr. A. A. Cooper II and his family announced their plans to leave Dubuque and move to Chicago where it was believed he had other hotel holdings. (22)

Brass lid found metal detecting. Reading "Hotel Julian (sic)/C. E. Wales/Managing Partner. Photo courtesy: B. Nagelmaker

During the gangster era of PROHIBITION, it is alleged the HOTEL JULIEN, renamed in 1929, was a get-away for Alphonse CAPONE, the infamous mobster who often found Dubuque and East Dubuque safer territory than Chicago.

William H. KLAUER, one of the original investors in the Dubuque Hotel Company, returned Dubuque ownership to the hotel in February 1930 though a settlement after court action had been taken by LeRoy Harris and Harry Brooks against company president Harold Hayes for alleged mismanagement. The Klauer purchase of the hotel diversified Klauer's investments away from manufacturing and the hotel remained in the Klauer portfolio until 1962 when the hotel was sold. It was at the time of the Klauer purchase that Rudolph Lorenz, former chef to His Majesty, Edward VII, King and England; His Royal Highness, Frederick Wilhelm, Crown Prince of Germany; German general staff, resorts of aristocracy in continental Europe; and clubs and cafes patronized by social leaders in America joined the staff of the hotel. (23)

The Hotel Julien was a favorite resting spot for travelers and provided the site for the city's first RADIO station.

Souvenir postcard.

William H. Klauer was one of the first patrons of the artist colonies near Taos, New Mexico and bought many paintings for display back in Dubuque. "The Art Room," later a reception area off the lobby along 2nd Street was known as the "Harbor Gallery." It was often chosen as the site for weddings. When the Klauers sold the hotel, there was no place locally to display many of the larger pieces. Donations of art was made to Notre Dame University.

The Julien was purchased in 1962 by Louis PFOHL who ordered remodeling. The hotel was closed for several years to redesign the lobby, dining rooms and guest rooms; add air-conditioning throughout the building; and install fast, self-service elevators. A collector of antiques, Pfohl brought many one-of-a-kind objects to the building including the famous Ziegfeld mirror to the lobby. In an interview with the TELEGRAPH HERALD, Pfohl stated that Ziegfield said the mirror was his good luck piece. Located in the first theater in which he presented the famous follies, the mirror was always placed just off-stage so that every girl could give herself a last inspection before appearing on stage. Gracing the dining room of the Alte Glocke Restaurant in the Julien were stained glass panels. Pfohl saved these from a stone staircase in a New York Gothic mansion belonging to Arthur Curtiss James who acquired immense wealth through investments in brass, copper, and RAILROADS.

Legendary Dubuque author Richard BISSELL was asked by Pfohl for ideas in designing the Riverboat Lounge. Bissell shared some antique running lights and a large photograph of a steamer. The name of the hotel was changed to the Julien Motor Inn in 1969. Standing in a niche at the entrance off Second and Main STREETS was a life-sized statue of Julien DUBUQUE, commissioned by Pfohl from New York sculptor Barry Johnston. The sculpture was placed looking toward the MISSISSIPPI RIVER because of an account that Dubuque once had a hut near where the Inn stands.

The remodeling created a sensation when the Julien Motor Inn was reopened in the fall of 1970. The DUBUQUE VISITING NURSE ASSOCIATION Charity Ball was the first to be held at the hotel in years. In 1989 the Julien Motor Inn was renamed the Julien Inn.

Stationery once offered by the hotel.

In 2009 amid much anticipation the Hotel Julien Dubuque reopened after a $28-million renovation which began in 2007. The project began with work on the exterior in March 2007 and interior work beginning six months later. The work included redesigning the 168 guest rooms into 133 luxury rooms and suites, installation of a geothermal system and a reflective roof, and the addition of a pool, fitness facility spa and retail spaces on the first and second floors of the hotel. Although the gala opening was held on September 12, 2015, the hotel hosted a Historic Walking Tour Launch & Reception the following day which unveiled a new, self-guided walking tour showcasing 25 points of interest at the hotel. (24)

In addition to being a venue for the JULIEN DUBUQUE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL, the background for the television series "The Bachelor" and many weddings, the hotel was once the site of a duel. In 1935 a woman, following the advice of her physician on curing her blocked nasal passages, ordered Limburger cheese sent from Monroe, Wisconsin. When the postmaster in Independence, Iowa refused to deliver the package, the issue was referred to the United States postmaster in Washington, D.C. After the postmaster in Washington, D.C. ruled the package could be delivered, Dubuque postmaster Burkhard issued a challenge to postmaster Miller of Independence. In a type of "smell off", the two postmasters met at the Julien on March 8, 1935. Burkhard offered Miller a gas mask which he refused saying he had no sense of smell. The "duel" was dismissed with Burkhard winning and Miller promising safe passage for cheese from Monroe, Wisconsin anywhere in Iowa. (25)

Ink Blotter. Photo courtesy: Bob Reding
Julien Hotel dishes. Photo courtesy: Bob Reding
This soft metal tray is embossed with images of the Julien Hotel, Wagon and Railroad bridges, and the Elks building. Photo courtesy: Bob Reding.
Trade token-face. Photo courtesy: Bob Reding
Token-reverse. Photo courtesy: Bob Reding
Advertisement (1875) on the back of a train schedule belonging to Dr. Edward E. Berry.Photo courtesy: Bill Breihan
Newspaper article describing the Dutch Room at the Julien (1935).Photo courtesy: Bill Breihan
1907 advertisement
1917 advertisement
Luggage decal
Hotel Julien fire of 1913. Photo courtesy: Bob Reding
Photo courtesy: Bob Reding
Photo courtesy: Bob Reding
Photo courtesy: Bob Reding
Photo courtesy: Bob Reding



1. "Remember Old Julien House, Successor to Waples House?" Telegraph Herald, Oct. 24, 1937, p. 3. Online: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=-OxBAAAAIBAJ&sjid=GaoMAAAAIBAJ&pg=2309,4651556&dq=stout+house+dubuque&hl=en

2. Ibid.

3. Ibid.

4. Ibid.

5. "Caught on the Fly," Dubuque Herald, April 29, 1877, p. 4. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=uh8FjILnQOkC&dat=18770429&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

6. "Remember Old Julien House, Successor to Waples House?" Telegraph-Herald, October 2, 1937, p. 3

7. "Organized," Dubuque Sunday Herald, February 15, 1889, p. 4

8. "Reorganized," Dubuque Sunday Herald, February 14, 1889, p. 4, Online: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=l55FAAAAIBAJ&sjid=_rwMAAAAIBAJ&pg=3517,234458&dq=stout+house+dubuque&hl=en

9. "Municipal Molecules," Dubuque Daily Herald, September 12, 1891, p. 4

10. "Municipal Molecules," Dubuque Daily Herald, December 24, 1891, p. 8

11. "Closed a Big Contract," Dubuque Daily Herald, September 23, 1893, p. 4

12. "Waples House and the Old Julien Hotel," Telegraph-Herald and Times-Journal'Italic text, April 30, 1933, p. 5

13. "Municipal Molecules," Dubuque Daily Herald, July 22, 1894, p. 8

14. "Hotel Case to Come Up Next Tuesday," Telegraph-Herald and Times-Journal, December 9, 1927, p. 9

15. "Waples House and the..."

16. "Fort Wayne Man Gets Lease on Dubuque's New Hotel," Telegraph-Herald, March 14, 1915, p. 13

17. "Waples House..."

18. "Change of Venue in Hotel Case Asked," Telegraph-Herald and Times-Journal, December 13, 1927, p. 2

19. "Court Dismisses Local Hotel Case," Telegraph-Herald and Times-Journal, December 20, 1927, p. 2

20. "Remember Old Julien House..."

21. Hendricks, Mike. "Cooper-A Proud Family Now Gone," Telegraph Herald, Dec. 7, 1981, p. 1. Online: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=LOlFAAAAIBAJ&sjid=wPwMAAAAIBAJ&pg=4428,854051&dq=aa+cooper+dubuque&hl=en)

22. Coopers Sell Julien Hotel Interests to Chicago Realtor," Telegraph-Herald, May 5, 1928, p. 1

23. "Cooking Will Again Become An Art, Dubuque Chef Says, When Prohibition Passes Out," Telegraph-Herald and Times-Journal, July 23, 1933, p. 2

24. Montgomery, Jeff, "Hotel Julien Emerges From the Ashes," Telegraph Herald, September 12, 2015, p. 3

25. Hellert, Susan Miller, Hidden History of Dubuque, Charleston, SC, The History Press, 2016, p. 127

Note: This entry owes a great debt to Mike Ironside whose pioneering articles on the Julien appeared in 365ink in 2009.

e-mail, Bill Breihan, Dec. 29, 2010