top of page

Our Story

A Snapshot in Time:
Dubuque through the ages.

  • January 20, 1877: ... persons were appointed to search out much of the suffering poor in the different districts as can be cared for by the society, and report such cases of actual want among this class of person ... It is expected that the ladies (on) both sides of the several streets from the bluffs to the river, that none be overlooked.

  • October 27, 1883: As long as Dubuque has no Old Ladies Home, this must be their shelter ... One pulling need we feel as the cold weather approaches, a large furnace or heating apparatus of some kind that will warm the entire building.

  • October, 1891: (The current census is:) seventeen adults, nineteen children ... (We find) necessity of having a man on the premises  to take charge of the furnace, cows, and do all out of doors work.

  • October 29, 1898: Since the ladies responded so kindly to the required work in the kitchen during the absence of the cook, it was moved and seconded that each one be presented with a percale dress as an acknowledgment of her services.

  • December, 1910: ... approved serving afternoon tea daily but, after further discussions, decided this might be establishing an unwise custom and one very difficult to change once established.

  • January 4, 1913: Vote to change name to Mount Pleasant Home.

  • January 2, 1925: ... There is also some good furniture in the barn which should be looked over and cared for. Miss McDonald suggested the walnut furniture be saved and restored and used in the home. This will add charm and homeyness to Mt. Pleasant Home.

  • March 4, 1926: All the children have now finished the inoculation for diphtheria ... the icebox needs looking in to ... need for new apple and cherry trees ... suggested having a pig, keeping of a sheep.

  • Jan 6, 1934: Because of our present economic conditions, we have endeavored to keep our girls in the home for beyond the prescribed time.

  • Jan 6, 1940 The Lull fund, when we started building operations, amounts to $10,948.21. The new building has plans which call for $69,762, and the repairs and changes in the old building will amount to $8,359.

  • September 1, 1947: Owing to the polio epidemic, the children have been confined to the Home grounds and behaved well under the restrictions.

  • January 16, 1958: Looking back on 1957, we find Mt. Pleasant Home has made an excellent start on its new career -- of offering to needy, elderly women a simple home to live out their golden years.

  • May 7, 1964: Treating of elm trees by inoculation to prevent Dutch elm disease for a year--discussed. Mrs. Woodward will contact firm that is taking care of elms on Rhomberg Ave.

  • May 2, 1968: Mrs. Foster reported the purchase of seven trees--two pine oaks, two majestic locusts, one sugar maple, one Norway maple and one large Norway maple.

  • April 5, 1979: We would not cultivate the garden space this year as it is expensive. We now have no one who really wants to cultivate it and the variety of produce enjoyed by the residents is limited.

  • August 14, 1988: Fourteen men ready to come in and no rooms ...


Swenson, Jim. "140 years later, Mt. Pleasant Home still a haven." Telegraph Herald, 7 October 2015.

In 1874, fifty-three women signed a charter establishing the Home for the Friendless or the Iowa Home for the Friendless. Its mission was to care for women and children. In its early stages, the home had five committees that took responsibility for the operation of the home: the Committee of Ways and Means was responsible for the entertainment of the home; the committee on Home saw to keeping the home in good repair; the Committee on Applicants decided who would be admitted to the home; the Committee on Homes for Children took charge of finding permanent housing for the children; and the Visiting Committee would visit the home once a week and report back to the board as to the conditions of the clients.

Everyone who was able to contribute, did. They were charged fifty percent of their earnings. Orphans who were left to the care of the home were charged $1.50 per week. Those who could not pay could still be admitted to the home at the discretion of the board president.

From 1874 until 1891, women were hired to run the entire operation. In 1891, it was decided that they needed to hire a man to see to the furnace, cows, and all outdoor work. This position was referred to as the "house man".

In 1874, the Home was located on Hill Street. On New Year's Day in 1875, the first Dubuquers were welcomed to their new location: fifty-one residents, thirty-nine of which were children.

On March 15, 1876, the Iowa House of Representatives appropriated $5,000--by a vote of 58 to 22--to the Iowa Home for the Friendless. Adjusting for inflation, that $5,000 would be worth $138,446.73 in today's currency.

Graham House soon became too small to house those in need, so in November 1877, Mr. and Mrs. Jeffrey M. Griffith, through their gracious generosity, donated their large mansion and two acres of ground for the home on Mount Pleasant Street in Dubuque, Iowa. The first residents were welcomed into the Griffith House on November 22, 1877.

On January 4, 1913, the board of directors renamed the Iowa Home for the Friendless to Mount Pleasant Home. It's board, consisting of women, introduced a clause stating that any new board members were required to be Protestant. This requirement was later dropped in 1972.

In the years of 1939 and 1988, two wings were added and three acres of ground were purchased.

In 1976, Mount Pleasant Home clarified its position with the State of Iowa stating that it was not a health-care facility and did not require a license from the state health department. In 2015, residents could choose to receive home health services from an agency of their choice.

Beginning on January 10, 1957, the home no longer sheltered homeless or needy people. The courts quickly directed that responsibility to child welfare workers and tasked them with placing the children either in foster care or in institutions that were better equipped to care for their needs.

In its heyday, Mount Pleasant Home saw to the tending of milk cows, chickens, orchards, grapevines, and acres of corn and tomatoes which yielded thousands of quarts of canned produce. This all ended in 1979, whcn no-one wanted the responsibility of caring for the animals or nursing the produce.

The Home saw  first male board member in 1990, and the first male president of the board was elected in 2001.

Mount Pleasant Home has been witness to several national and global events. It saw to the end of the Reconstruction Era, World Wars I and II, the landing on the moon, the attack of September 11, 2001, and the election of the first African-American president, to name a few.

Mount Pleasant Home is dedicated to the comfort of its residents. With this philosophy, Mount Pleasant Home will continue to serve the residents of Dubuque well into the future.

--retrieved from ""

bottom of page