Loras College receives grant to apply for historical designation

DUBUQUE, Iowa — Loras College, a four-year Catholic liberal arts college in Dubuque, has received a $6,600 Historical Resource Development Program (HDRP) grant from the State Historical Society of Iowa to nominate the Loras College Historic District to the National Register of Historic Places. Heritage Works, a local nonprofit historic preservation organization, will prepare the nomination.

“We are honored to receive the grant because if we receive Register status, we will be one of only two college campuses in the state to have its entire campus on the Register as a historic district. This will benefit not only the College, but the also the Dubuque community and the surrounding area,” said Valorie Woerdehoff, director of foundation and government support at Loras. “Being on the Register can help attract more tourists and lay the groundwork for other colleges in Iowa to also be recognized. We also are grateful to Heritage Works for their assistance on the grant proposal and look forward to partnering with them on the application.”

“Heritage Works is proud to partner with Loras College to help them list their campus on the National Register of Historic Places,” said Duane Hagerty, CEO of Heritage Works. “As Iowa’s first college, the campus has a rich history.  Its historic architecture and commanding location atop Dubuque’s bluffs make the Loras campus a special place,” “In addition to the honor that the National Register listing will bring to Loras College, the listing will also help Loras maintain and enhance the historic character of its campus for generations to come. One of the exciting aspects of this project is that we will enlist the help of Loras College students to complete some of the research and documentation needed for the nomination.”

Loras was the only college among the 27 recipients and one of three organizations in Dubuque to receive a HDRP grant. In total, the State Historical Society of Iowa awarded more than $500,000 in 25 communities. The 18-month grant will pay for the services of Heritage Works, also in Dubuque, to write a nomination, including all supporting materials. The nomination will then be submitted to the state and, if nominated by the State Historical Society, submitted to the U.S. Department of the Interior. A determination will then be made regarding the application with 45 days, according to Woerdehoff.

Founded in 1839, Loras College is Iowa’s first college, the second oldest Catholic college west of the Mississippi River and one of the nation’s 10 diocesan colleges. The 64-acre campus is perched on the top of Loras Boulevard and welcomes more than 10,000 visitors a year, including students from 24 states and 10 countries. The grounds are bounded by Loras Boulevard on the south, Kirkwood Street on the north, Henion Street on the east, and Alta Vista Street on the west.

The campus is surrounded by residential neighborhoods on all sides, some of which are among the most historic in the city. The college consists of 23 buildings, two athletic fields, a stadium, and tennis courts. Because of its high location, several of the buildings can be seen from neighboring states Illinois and Wisconsin.

The College has functioned under several names (St. Raphael Seminary, Mt. St. Bernard, St. Joseph College, Dubuque College and Columbia College), finally adopting its present name during its centennial in 1939.

Historical Resource Development Program grants help individuals and organizations preserve, conserve, interpret and educate the public about documentary collections, historic preservation and museums. Since 1990, the program has awarded more than $16 million to 1,200 historical projects across the state to conserve museum collections, microfilm newspapers, preserve photographs, install exhibits, survey historic neighborhoods, nominate buildings and districts to the National Register of Historic Places, and more.

The Historical Resource Development Program and Country School Grant Program are funded by the Resource Enhancement and Protection Act, established by the Iowa General Assembly in 1989. Local governments, nonprofit corporations, individuals, businesses and American Indian tribes are eligible to submit applications. Projects funded in this grant cycle must be completed by Nov. 30, 2019.

The National Register of Historic Places is the nation’s official list of cultural resources worthy of preservation. Authorized under the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Register is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect historic and archeological resources. Properties listed in the Register include districts, sites, buildings, structures and objects that are significant in American history, architecture, archeology, engineering and culture. The National Register is administered by the National Park Service, which is part of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Loras leverages its historic roots as Iowa’s first college, the second oldest Catholic college west of the Mississippi River and one of the nation’s 10 diocesan institutions to deliver challenging, life-changing experiences as part of its residential, Catholic setting. Loras ranks among 450 NCAA Division III athletic programs in Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup standings, 11th out of the Top 100 baccalaureate colleges, according to the 2016 Washington Monthly College Rankings, 13th Best Regional College, according to Midwest U.S. News Best Colleges and is among the 200 Best-Loved Colleges in the nation, according to Forbes Magazine.

Visit, call (563) 588-7100 or (800) 245-6727, like Loras College on Facebook or follow @lorascollege to learn more.

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