Explore Dubuque’s rich history at our unique historic site. Owned and operated by the Dubuque County Historical Society and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this historic property includes the Mathias Ham House, Iowa's oldest log cabin, 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 and purchase tickets!
From the start, photography was an expensive and time consuming hobby that required equipment, chemicals, and dedicated space for storage and development of photographs. However, the public was so fascinated by photography, technology rapidly changed between 1826 and 1900 to make photography methods faster, easier, and more accessible. The photography bug had bitten the American population, and the age of the amateur photographer would soon begin.
This exhibition provides a snapshot into the brief but complex history of photography. Antique cameras, photographs ranging from portraiture to panoramas, and photography equipment will be displayed throughout the room, showcasing the evolution of photography.
IN THIS SECTION
Youth (Ages 3-17): $4.00
Children 2 and under admitted free.
Receive a free parking voucher for Eagle Point Park with admission to the Mathias Ham Historic Site! Admission is free to members of the Dubuque County Historical Society. Group rates are available.
Please know that the Ham Site does not provide ghost tours; regardless of what you may have read through a web search. There have been many tall tales that have taken root over the years, however, the Dubuque County Historical Society and its staff do not take stock in these stories. We'd love to interpret the history of the Ham Site, but we leave the rest to speculation.
The Mathias Ham Historic Site
2241 Lincoln Avenue
Dubuque, Iowa 52001
Historic Site Coordinator: 563-557-9545 x218
The Mathias Ham Historic Site is open Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day Wednesdays through Sundays.
Hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. (last tour begins at 3:30 P.M.)
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 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.
Look for a new craft the first Sunday of each month during our summer season! Crafts are just $5 each and guests do not require admission to the Ham Site. Crafts begin at noon and are available while supplies last.
July 7 - Rag Rugs
Aug. 4 - Kites
Sept. 1 - Woven Wall Art
Free tours of the Mathias Ham House; historic games, activities and demonstrations; cannon fire; and great food for purchase! Join us on the Fourth of July for some good old fashioned fun!
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.