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Dubuque County Historical Society receives challenge grant to restore the Mathias Ham House

The Dubuque County Historical Society (DCHS) and its Mathias Ham House were recently awarded a $270,000 challenge grant from the Jeffris Family Foundation. The grant, which requires DCHS to raise a matching $540,000 by June 30, 2024, will support preservation and maintenance of the Mathias Ham House’s interior finishes and mechanical and building systems.

“The Jeffris Foundation is delighted to be proceeding with a challenge grant to preserve the Mathias Ham House,” states Thomas M. Jeffris, Foundation President. “As Dubuque is Iowa’s Key City, we are very fortunate to partner with the Dubuque County Historical Society to ensure the revitalization of a major beacon and its founding history.”

In its effort to realize the importance of historic preservation and its many histories, the Jeffris Family Foundation has been a strong supporter to preservation projects in the Midwest, including a major restoration of the Villa Louis mansion located in Prairie du Chien, Wis., President Warren G. Harding’s home—now historic house museum—in Marion, Ohio, and President William Henry Harrison’s home—designated a National Historic Landmark—in Vincennes, Ind.

“We are honored for the Mathias Ham House to be included among the many great restoration projects funded in part by the Jeffris Family Foundation. It is our vision that this house and all of our historic properties are restored to their original form, to the best of our ability, in an effort to keep Dubuque history alive,” says Erin Dragotto, VP of Development for the Dubuque County Historical Society.

The Ham House improvements are part of a larger and ongoing effort to restore the historic home, Humke one-room schoolhouse, Arriandeaux log cabin—Iowa’s oldest standing building, and the property’s landscaping as well as improve accessibility of the site. In the last year both the log cabin and the Humke schoolhouse were restored. Construction will begin this fall on the accessible pathways at the site.

For more information on how you can support the challenge grant, contact VP of Development Erin Dragotto at 563-557-9545 x210 or For more information on the property and upcoming events at the site, visit

About the Dubuque County Historical Society

The Society was formed in 1950 as a private, non-profit organization with a focus on oral and archival history. Since that time, its collections have grown to include more than 41,000 historical items, many of which are on display at DCHS properties— the Mathias Ham Historic Site and the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium. The Society’s mission is to inspire stewardship by creating educational experiences where history and rivers come alive. It fulfills that mission through dynamic interpretation and exhibition of historical artifacts and archives as well as through the conservation and preservation of these historic treasures.

About the Jeffris Family Foundation

The Jeffris Family Foundation assists the development of historic sites for nonprofit organizations in small towns and cities in eight Midwestern states including Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan. More information on the Foundation can be found at