Explore Dubuque’s rich history at our unique historic site. Operated by the Dubuque County Historical Society and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this historic property includes the Mathias Ham House, on the National Registrar of Historic Places; Arriandeaux Cabin, Iowa's oldest building; the Humke Schoolhouse from Centralia, and a historic granary.
Costumed interpreters provide guided tours of the site, sharing the rich history of Mathias Ham, the city of Dubuque, life on the Mississippi River, and life during the Victorian era. Scroll this page to explore the site.
Donate to the Ham Site
IN THIS SECTION
Youth (Ages 3-17): $4.00
Children 2 and under admitted free.
The Site is closed for the season with the exception of public events on select dates. Visit rivermuseum.com/events for more!
As you prepare for your visit, we want you to be aware of the following new guidelines and safety measures in place. These may be subject to change in the following months.
Receive a free parking voucher for Eagle Point Park with admission to the Mathias Ham Historic Site! Admission is free to members of the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium, a property of the Dubuque County Historical Society. Group rates are available.
The Mathias Ham Historic Site will reopen Memorial Day Weekend 2021. In the meantime, check our Events page for special events at the Site.
The Mathias Ham House is also available for field trips, group visits, and private functions at any time by appointment. For field trips and group tours, contact Melissa Wersinger at 563-557-9545 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For all other questions, contact Victoria Cote, Historic Site Coordinator, at 563-557-9545 x218 or email@example.com for more information.
historic site faq
The Mathias Ham Historic Site
2241 Lincoln Avenue
Dubuque, Iowa 52001
Historic Site Coordinator: 563-557-9545 x218
Please note that the Dubuque County Historical Society and its staff do not provide ghost tours or access for paranormal investigators. We'd love to interpret the history of the Ham Site, but we leave the rest to speculation.
The history found at the Mathias Ham Historic Site is vast and the tales are plentiful. Here is where we hope some of those stories can live on. Shared from the perspective of our historians, enjoy journeying through the life once lived on Lincoln Avenue.
Details to come for 2020.
Home for the Holidays (Home for the holidays will not be held in 2020; however, we look forward to bringing the event back in 2021.)
Held annually in November/December.
Sunday Picnics - Returning summer of 2021
The staff of the Ham Site invite you and your family to pack a picnic lunch and spread your blanket on the Ham Site grounds any Sunday during our season. The grounds are open to the public and cost nothing. Children can explore the school, log cabin, and miner's dwelling.
Craft Days - Returning summer of 2021
Craft Kit - Quilling is the craft of shaping and arranging small strips of paper to create a design. Kits include: quilling paper, qulling rolling tool, cork board, straight pins, and toothpicks. Ages 5+
July 4, 2021 - Fourth of July Ice Cream Social
Free home tours, demonstrations, crafts, live music, food for purchase, ice cream, and cake make Fourth of July at the Ham Site the perfect annual tradition!
This stately country villa stands today as a living reflection of its wealthy builder, Mathias Ham. One of Dubuque’s earliest entrepreneurs, Ham built his estate over the course of many years from 1839 to 1857 with money earned from his successful lead mining endeavors.
Inside the home, elegant American and European furnishings exemplify the opulent Victorian lifestyle of a booming river town. John F. Rague designed this distinctive example of the Italian Villa style of architecture. As architect for the Old State Capitols of Illinois and Iowa, Rague’s buildings were known for their monumental scale and elegance.
The settler’s log cabin is Iowa’s oldest standing building, believed to have been built in the late 1820s by a French fur trader and later occupied by lead miners. It was originally located on the corner of 2nd and Locusts Streets in downtown Dubuque. It was moved to Eagle Point Park before being moved to the grounds of the Mathias Ham Historic Site in the 1960s. The double room style is known as a “dog trot” cabin.
The last one-room school used in Dubuque County, the Humke School was built in 1883 and was used through 1966. It was located on Humke Road, west of Dubuque.
Dubuque was once the center of a nationally significant lead mining phenomenon. People came from all over the country to mine lead, and the At the Lead Mines area of the Mathias Ham Historic Site recreates the interior of a lead mine and a badger hole (a lead miner’s shelter).
Saved from the path of progress, the 1840s granary building was moved from its original location on Southern Avenue to the Mathias Ham Historic Site when the construction of Highway 61 threatened its destruction in 1989. Nineteenth-century farmers used granaries after threshing to sore and protect grain from rats, mice, weevils and grain moths. Granaries were well ventilated to prevent spoilage and waste.
A grant from the Dubuque Racing Association supported the restoration of the granary in 2012, with help from Four Mounds’ HEART Program.