Alfred Caldwell’s Eagle Point Park

Alfred Caldwell’s Eagle Point Park

Alfred Caldwell titled his creation at Eagle Point Park, “a city in a garden.” The park sits high atop of a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River on the northeast corner of Dubuque. Caldwell’s work at the park was made possible through the Works Progress Administration (W.P.A.) program to expand and renovate the park. With the influence of Frank Lloyd Wright’s organic ideas, Caldwell designed the pavilions, the lily pond, the ledge gardens, council rings, and pathways.

1 Lilly Pond Construction Alfred Caldwell on left with can ca 1934-35 TH Photo

Lilly Pond Construction Alfred Caldwell on the left (Photo Credit: Telegraph Herald photo from the collection of Loras College Center for Dubuque History)

Caldwell constructed three pavilions out of striated limestone pulsating in and out from the vertical plane and simultaneously emphasizing the horizontality of the buildings with low-slung hipped roofs and wide eaves. He produced most of the materials needed on site opening a stone quarry nearby and cutting lumber from the local timber. The pavilions were clustered near the highest point in the park and provided multipurpose meeting rooms, dining rooms, and bathrooms around stone hearths. The bridge pavilion stretches across the main road to create a formal entry to the park.

The buildings are connected with stone terraces, benches, and walls. The organic quality of Caldwell’s design was strengthened by the native plants placed informally around the pavilions and throughout the park. In true Prairie school fashion, Caldwell aimed to blur the distinction between nature and the built environment, particularly with the use of the ledge garden, the lily pool, and the council rings intentionally set to grow out of the hill.

4 Women on Councel Ring ca 1930s TH Photo

Women on the Council Ring, ca. 1930’s (Photo Credit: Telegraph Herald photo from the collection of Loras College Center for Dubuque History)

The park won a national W.P.A. design award in 1936, and Franklin Delano and Eleanor Roosevelt visited the site during the 1936 presidential campaign. Upon seeing Caldwell’s work, President Roosevelt remarked that “this is my idea of a worthwhile boondoggle.” Caldwell was subsequently fired from this job, just as he would be fired from most of the jobs he would ever have.

Caldwell’s work at Eagle Point Park will be examined and celebrated during Heritage Works’ upcoming inaugural Dubuque Heritage Festival on October 7 and 8.  The afternoon on October 7 will feature a symposium for architects, landscape architects, historic preservation professionals and anyone else interested in history, Caldwell’s work or historic landscapes.  Friday evening will feature a reception at the Dubuque Museum of Art and the opening of the museum’s exhibit of some of Caldwell’s drawings and other artifacts of Caldwell’s time in Dubuque.  Saturday will give the public an opportunity to participate in docent-led tours of Caldwell’s shelters and landscapes in Eagle Point Park.  For further information visit:  http://heritageworksdbq.com/festival/
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Heritage Works Dubuque :: Dubuque Heritage Festival, Arthur Caldwell's Eagle Point Park

Architect of the Month: Alfred Caldwell, August 2016

Architect of the Month: Alfred Caldwell, August 2016

Caldwell (Credit Illinois Institute of Technology)

Alfred Caldwell (Photo Credit: Illinois Institute of Technology)

Alfred Caldwell (1903 – 1998), was a landscape architect who mastered the use of Prairie School style of architecture. Caldwell had an interest in nature from early on in his life continuing into high school when he worked part-time jobs with nurseries and landscape gardeners.
In 1921, he attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to study landscape architecture but his studies bored him and he preferred to craft his visions with work outside of the classroom. He left school and went to work for renowned landscape architect, Jens Jenson, in Chicago, from 1924-1931. Caldwell completed various jobs for his mentor, Jensen as their work relationship soon developed into a close friendship. After a short stint as a private practice landscape architect and with a recommendation from Jensen, Caldwell earned the position of superintendent of parks in Dubuque specifically overseeing the construction of Eagle Point Park from 1934 – 1936. He directed the construction of the shelter areas, the lily pond, and the ledge gardens and called his masterpiece a “City in a Garden.”

JJ&Caldwell

Alfred Caldwell with Jens Jenson

He left Dubuque in 1936 to accept the position of landscape designer for the Chicago Park District where he designed landscapes for hundreds of acres of Chicago’s parks, including the Lincoln Park Zoo lily pond. In 1945 Caldwell was hired by Mies van der Rohe to teach landscape architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) College of Architecture. IIT eventually awarded him a Master of Science in city planning in 1948. Caldwell left IIT in 1960 to teach at Virginia Polytechnic Institute.  He then later taught at the University of Southern California until 1973.

Caldwell returned to teaching at IIT in 1982 until his death in 1998. He was not only a gifted landscape architect but also did work as a civil engineer, city planner, and a prolific writer of poems and essays. Additionally, he was a critic of urban sprawl and advocated for environmental conservation. Throughout the remaining years of his life, he continued to develop a marvelous Prairie school landscape at his Bristol, Wisconsin farm. Dennis Domer, the author of Caldwell’s biography, labeled him as the last representative of the great Prairie School landscape architects.

EPP Bridge

Eagle Point Park Bridge

Caldwell’s work at Eagle Point Park will be examined and celebrated during Heritage Works’ upcoming inaugural Dubuque Heritage Festival on October 7 and 8.  The afternoon on October 7 will feature a symposium for architects, landscape architects, historic preservation professionals and anyone else interested in history, Caldwell’s work or historic landscapes.  Friday evening will feature a reception at the Dubuque Museum of Art and the opening of the museum’s exhibit of some of Caldwell’s drawings and other artifacts of Caldwell’s time in Dubuque.  Saturday will give the public an opportunity to participate in docent-led tours of Caldwell’s shelters and landscapes in Eagle Point Park.  For further information visit:  http://heritageworksdbq.com/festival/Heritage Works Dubuque :: Dubuque Heritage Festival, Arthur Caldwell's Eagle Point Park

John Mullany’s New Malleray Abbey Monastery

John Mullany’s New Malleray Abbey Monastery

New Melleray Abbey Monastery

Built: 1867 – 1870

Located in Peosta, Iowa at 6632 Melleray Circle

New Melleray Abbey Peosta

Corner view of the pointed windows and detailed stone work

Architect John Mullany is credited with the design of New Melleray Abbey. The New Melleray Abbey began with the Trappist monks who had left their home at the Mount Melleray Abbey in Ireland.  The monks left Ireland in the midst of the Great Famine in the late 1840s. Sailing to North America in search of a monastic site, they eventually came to the Iowa frontier, east of Dubuque where Bishop Loras offered them six hundred acres of land to settle. John Mullany’s brother, Patrick also emigrated to the United States and the Dubuque area. Patrick entered the Trappists, taking the name Brother Stanislaus. He was one of the original monks who founded the New Melleray Monastery at Peosta.

New Melleray Abbey Peosta 2

North Tower of the Abbey

Mullany’s plans called for four buildings of stone to be erected in the form of a square surrounding a court one hundred feet long by one hundred feet wide.  An 1871 Dubuque Daily Times article noted that “the stupendous monastery at New Melleray will be gazed upon, written about and pondered over by generations yet unborn. It is, in reality a gigantic pile of stone and mortar, tower and pinnacle, and when fully completed, according to the programme laid out by the projectors, will cover not less than three acres of ground, and with the exception of its twin brother in Nelson County, Kentucky, will be the largest institution of the kind in the world.”

The southern wing was intended to be the location of an imposing abbey church.  However, only the north and east buildings were constructed according to Mullany’s plans.  The north wing was originally intended to be the refectory, but became the Abbey church.  It remains a stunning example of Gothic Revival design with its stone construction and pointed arch windows.

John Mullany’s Town Clock

John Mullany’s Town Clock

Town Clock

Built: 1864; Rebuilt and relocated 1873; Relocated – 1971

Located on Main Street at Town Clock Plaza

The Dubuque Town Clock is another distinguished landmark of downtown Dubuque. The clock currently operates in the Town Clock Plaza on Main Street.  Dubuque’s first town clock was initially erected in 1864 on top of the John Bell and Company store, a building on the west side of Main Street between Eighth and Ninth streets. In 1872, the foundation of the building holding the clock gave way and the clock came crashing down on the Bell building.

Town Clock

(Photo Credit: Bob Reding, Encyclopedia Dubuque)

Later in 1872, the mayor and finance committee met to determine the fate of the town clock and tower. They decided to award the commission to design and construct the new clock and tower to John Mullany, provided he complete the project in 30 days. The clock was to be placed on top of a new building on Main Street between 8th and 9th streets, designed by architect Fridolin Heer. According to an 1872 Herald article, Mullany’s Town Clock “is built of brick, three stories high, faced with heavy stone caps, lintels, corners, etc. and is an ornament to the street. The style of architecture appears to be a mixture of the Gothic and Corinthian.” In 1970, the clock was removed from the Town Clock Building and relocated to the Town Clock Square as the centerpiece of the downtown redevelopment effort. The clock tower and clock were set atop a 100-feet tall concrete tower and rededicated in its new prominent home in August, 1971.
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Bell

(1872 Sheffield Bell inside the Town Clock |Photo Credit: David Johnson, City of Dubuque Planning Department)

inside clock tower

(Inside the Town Clock |Photo Credit: David Johnson, City of Dubuque Planning Department)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

John Mullany’s St. Mary’s Catholic Church

John Mullany’s St. Mary’s Catholic Church

St. Mary’s Catholic Church

Built: 1864 – 1867

Located at the Northeast corner of E. 15th and White Streets

St. Mary’s (circa 1860)

By 1863, the German immigrant population of Dubuque was increasing dramatically. The membership of the Holy Trinity parish had outgrown its stone church that Bishop Loras dedicated in 1850 for the German speaking Catholics. Therefore, the parish formed the German Roman Catholic Building Association in order to construct a new church, supporting buildings, and to raise funds for the project. The parish purchased five lots from the Langworthy Estate, (a prominent Dubuque family) and hired John Mullany as architect to design the church. Interestingly, Bishop Clement Smyth chose an Irish architect to design a church for the expanding German parish. Mullany had already proven his experience in designing St. Raphael’s Cathedral and thus built a close relationship with Bishop Smyth earning him the commission.

St. Mary’s from a view (circa 1860)

St. Mary’s is designed in the Gothic Revival style of architecture, particularly the tower and steeple with its tiers, spirelets, finials and other decorative details. It is 250 feet in height, the tallest steeple in the region. Early descriptions of Mullany’s design for St. Mary’s reference the Salisbury Cathedral in England as his model. However, it is most likely that he drew his inspiration from Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin’s design for St. George Cathedral, the Roman Catholic Cathedral in Southwark, London, (the St. George tower was never built due to lack of funds). Mullany was strongly influenced by Pugin’s work in Gothic Revival architecture. St. Mary’s is one of the oldest remaining high-style Gothic Revival church buildings in Iowa.  The interior includes lavish decoration and stained glass windows from the F.X. Zettler Company of Munich, Germany, one of the premier art glass companies of the period.

St. Mary’s endured and enriched the lives of its parishioners for 143 years. In 2009, the St. Mary’s parish council voted to recommend to the Archdiocese of Dubuque, that the parish close after years of declining membership, lack of funds, and deteriorating facilities. On May 25, 2010, St. Mary’s celebrated its final Mass, ending a legacy that began in 1867. Although the interior liturgical furnishings have been removed from the Church, it does retain its interior architectural decoration such as windows, murals, stencils and paintings.

St. Mary's Inside 2010

Inside of St. Mary’s (circa 2010)

Through a local community effort in conjunction with the Friends of St. Mary’s, an extensive renovation and restoration of the church and the entire block is currently underway. The restoration will revive the St. Mary’s campus into Steeple Square and kindle a resurgence of the Washington Neighborhood. Please see the Steeple Square website for further information on the restoration project. Click here for a video discussing the history and architecture of St. Mary’s.

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John Mullany’s St. Raphael’s Cathedral

John Mullany’s St. Raphael’s Cathedral

St. Raphael’s Cathedral

Built: 1857 – 1861

Located at the intersection of W. 2nd and Bluff Streets

St. Raphael’s Cathedral is John Mullany’s first notable design accomplishment in Dubuque, although the construction may have caused him more grief than triumph with the Financial Panic of 1857 and the tightening of financial support to achieve his initial design. The cathedral is modeled after Magdalen College in Oxford, England. The cornerstone was laid in July of 1857 and the building was completed in 1861. It was over three times larger than its predecessor and witnessed its first Mass, offered by Bishop Loras two months before his death, on Christmas 1857. The cathedral received its formal dedication and blessing on July 7, 1861.

Old Postcard of St. Raphael’s Cathedral

Interior of the Cathedral (circa 1886)

Mullany’s design for the cathedral was 83 feet across the front, with a limestone façade and brick sides. The steeple and tower area were to be 243 feet high. The architectural style is predominately Gothic. The building’s most unusual feature is the lancet window at the base of the tower. Mullany also designed the elaborate altar screen that still exists today, though substantially modified.  There are two entrances at the side of the tower within the body of the building. In Mullany’s original design these two entrance walls were to have terminated in their own gables, with high pinnacles at each of the corners. Mullany also had projected a tall, thin spire roof, but a more abridged 243-foot-high square tower was eventually added in 1876 through a fund-raising effort.

Close up of the Cathedral Screen (circa 2016)

By May 1871, the fund-raising effort to complete the tower had only raised $5,000 of a projected $30,000. In 1872-73, when it was realized that the Cathedral’s foundations would not support a tower of Mullany’s intended height, construction was again halted. Mullany ceased to be associated with the Cathedral at this point and went on to other projects. The 1876 revision of the tower was topped with four pinnacles, instead of Mullany’s planned steeple of cut limestone.
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