ALC students explore hometown history in the Millwork District

ALC students explore hometown history in the Millwork District

Dylan Thill stood across the street from a Farley & Loetscher Manufacturing Co. building today with a historic photograph in his hands.

With classmates nearby, Thill held up the photograph, revealing that a bridge once connected the structure with another nearby.

“It’s great because then you can see how it changed over time,” said Thill, a senior at the Alternative Learning Center.

Nearly 40 students in teacher Tim Hitzler’s U.S. history classes toured the Millwork District and Lower Main Street this week. The field trips were designed to help students connect historical events like the Industrial Revolution, prohibition and World War I with the city of Dubuque.

“It’s history in your own backyard,” Hitzler said. “These students, they walk by these places and drive by these places all the time, but they don’t really know the history of them. I think they get a lot more out of it when they can see history in real life. Walking through the Millwork District is almost like walking back in time to the late 1800s.”

On Wednesday, students learned about Farley & Loetscher, the Caradco Building and Voices from the Warehouse in the Millwork District.

“The Millwork District fits into the Industrial Revolution perfectly,” Hitzler said.

Duane Hagerty, CEO of Heritage Works, led students on tours Tuesday and Wednesday. It was the first time Heritage Works partnered with a school to offer tours.

“History is happening all the time. (Students are) part of history,” Hagerty said.

He said leaders of Heritage Works, a new nonprofit resource for historic preservation and redevelopment projects, believe it’s important for youth to be involved in historic preservation and learn about potential careers, such as masonry.

Paige Lynch, a senior, enjoyed walking through the Millwork District. She said she hadn’t previously explored the district.

“It’s better to have hands-on (experiences) instead of sitting in the classroom. It makes you more involved in what you’re learning about,” Lynch said.

Students will combine knowledge gained on the tour with additional research to create exhibits on Dubuque locations that connect national historical events and historic preservation. Hitzler said the exhibits will be displayed in Heritage Works by the end of October.

“It’s a lot to take in in one day,” Lynch said of the tours. “Every single piece of building is a historical fact. It’s pretty cool.”

BY STACEY BECKER

As published in Dubuque Telegraph Herald. View article here.