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Collection Spotlight

Old Prescott School

As students of all ages in Dubuque head back to school, the 2020-2021 school year promises to be unlike any other. Many students from preschool to college will do much of their learning outside the walls of an actual school building. So what better time to look back at one of Dubuque’s most storied schools.

Did you know there have been three buildings named Prescott School in Dubuque? The very first Prescott School is pictured here. It was located on the corner of Clay and 12th Streets and was called Third Ward School. Clay Street is now Central Avenue, and the building still stands at that corner today. Constructed in 1856, it had taken more than a decade to raise enough money to build Prescott and Dubuque’s other earliest school at 39 Bluff Street, where the 1909 Franklin School building now sits (now as an apartment building). Just two years later, a high school class was added to the elementary school’s upper floors, while the first two floors held four rooms of younger students divided by gender and academic level. 

The view in this circa 1880 photograph shows the school as seen looking toward the west. The bluffs can be seen in the background, and out of view to the right was (and still is) City Hall, completed just two years after the school’s construction in 1858. Children are gathered all around, including in the street, and it appears some are also peering out of the school’s open windows.

The second Prescott School was located at 1249 White Street and built in 1913. The current Prescott School building at 1151 White Street opened in 2006.

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