Located: 2921 Central Ave
The Holy Ghost Catholic Church was one of the last major Dubuque church designs by architect, Guido Beck. Beck designed this church in the Italian Renaissance style of architecture in 1915, reflecting a change in church design style. Beck’s design for Holy Ghost, St. Joseph Chapel at Loras College, and St. Philomena Catholic Church in Asbury (1920) illustrate the waning popularity of the Gothic Revival style for church architecture in the first couple decades of the 1900s, in favor of Romanesque and Italian Renaissance styles.
The Holy Ghost parish was formed in 1896 in response to rapid population growth in the northern parts of Dubuque and the Sacred Heart parish. The Sacred Heart parish was established in 1879 to meet the demands of the German immigrant population that St. Mary’s could no longer accommodate. With the continued influx of German immigrants to the area, Archbishop Hennessy created Holy Ghost parish at the 2900th block on Central Avenue. Initially, a combination church and school structure was built with the anticipation of increased growth in the student population. The building also contained living space for the Sisters who taught at the school. As the parish continued to grow there was need for additional space. Guido Beck was again commissioned by the archdiocese to design a new church. At just over $10,000, Beck designed the church in the Italian Renaissance style of architecture and in the form of a cross.
Joseph Walter, renowned artist of Midwest church interiors, painted the murals and art works for the interior. Walter was originally from Tyrol, Austria and settled in Dubuque in 1898. He would go on to decorate 185 churches across the Midwest. Unfortunately, most of Walter’s murals have been removed or painted over. The mural of Jesus on the ceiling of the transept is the only remaining artwork of Walter’s in Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost church, school, rectory, and convent are now listed together as a historic district on the National Register of Historic Places.