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.
(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.
(1872 Sheffield Bell inside the Town Clock |Photo Credit: David Johnson, City of Dubuque Planning Department)
(Inside the Town Clock |Photo Credit: David Johnson, City of Dubuque Planning Department)
Heritage Works is excited to announce its “Architect of the Month” feature. For the next twelve months, we will showcase a different architect on our website and all of our social media outlets. Each featured architect is noted as contributing a prominent and lasting legacy to the landscape of the Dubuque area. These monthly postings offer the public an opportunity to learn more about Dubuque architecture, preservation, and the efforts to maintain our unique treasures. It is likely that you have traveled the streets of downtown Dubuque and noticed a unique building or an interesting ornate detail of a building and wanted to learn more. Hopefully our highlighted architects and their unique landmarks will provide a context for your next stroll through downtown Dubuque. Follow along with us as we explore the rich architectural landscape of Dubuque through the various architects that built these landmarks nestled between the bluffs and the Mississippi River.
Heritage Works is proud to showcase the July Architect of the Month, John Mullany, architect of St. Raphael’s Cathedral, St. Mary’s Catholic Church, New Melleray Abbey Monastery, and the Town Clock.
John Mullany (1813 – 1884), is considered one of Dubuque’s finest architects with his distinctive use of Gothic Revival style of architecture. The Gothic Revival style is part of the mid-19th century picturesque and Romantic Movement in architecture, reflecting the public’s taste for buildings inspired by medieval design. The most commonly identifiable feature of the Gothic Revival style is the pointed arch, used for windows, doors, and decorative elements like porches, dormers, or roof gables. Gothic Revival came to America from England, particularly through church architects who were strongly influenced by popular architects, such as, Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin. Pugin promoted the idea that a Gothic style church was the only suitable structure for Christian worship. He was the architect of many Gothic Revival English and Irish churches of the mid-nineteenth century.
Mullany was born on July 30, 1813 in Cahir, County Tipperary in Ireland. Mullany’s father was an architect/builder, so it was natural that Mullany grew to excel in the trade. Perhaps most influential to Mullany’s life as an architect came in 1840 when he and his wife moved to England where he worked and studied under Augustus Pugin for approximately four years. Pugin’s Gothic Revival influence is quite evident in Mullany’s buildings in Dubuque, (St. Mary’s, St. Raphael’s Cathedral, and New Melleray Abbey). Mullany immigrated to the United States in 1847 and moved to Dubuque, Iowa in 1857, initially joining the Leeman and Keenan firm of building. Of Mullany’s three known surviving Gothic Revival structures in Dubuque, St. Mary’s is Mullany’s masterwork; his best example of the Gothic Revival style and Augustus Pugin’s influence on the design.