Steeple Square Reaches Milestone in Achieving Challenge Grant Match

Steeple Square

Dubuque-based group raises $1.2 million

In just over two years after receiving a Jeffris Family Foundation Challenge Grant, Steeple Square in Dubuque, Iowa, is pleased to announce it has achieved grant fundraising match requirements and will formally receive funding support for the steeple restoration which is currently underway.

The $600,000 capital campaign challenge grant from the Jeffris Family Foundation required Steeple Square to raise a 2:1 match for the steeple project in the amount of $1.2 million. Thanks to innovative vision and strong local support, Steeple Square was able to achieve the match well ahead of schedule.

Tom Jeffris, President

Thomas Jeffris, President

Thomas Jeffris, president of the Jeffris Family Foundation, said they have been following the Steeple Square project with great positivity.

“Our foundation is enthusiastic to give this challenge grant to restore the former St. Mary’s tower and steeple. Its German heritage was an important part of Dubuque’s history. The restoration will make an incredible impact in the revitalizing efforts of the Washington/North end neighborhoods. Dubuque is fortunate to have such an able group as Steeple Square board and volunteers.”

Steeple Square board president, Jack McCullough, noted that building a relationship with the Jeffris Family Foundation was an early catalyst for project and fundraising planning. The team forged a relationship with the foundation in 2013, and McCullough reported that Jeffris’ strong interest in the project spurred the group on to do necessary planning and feasibility work for both operations and historic rehabilitation.

“Early on when we were planning the steeple restoration, the Jeffris grant was pivotal to launching a successful campaign,” McCullough said. “Their passion for historic preservation will pay dividends for generations to come.”

The announcement comes during an exciting phase of Steeple Square’s restoration work. Scaffolding is currently surrounding the steeple at a height of 210 feet at 15th and White streets.

The board of directors believes support from Jeffris, coupled with significant investment from the community, contributes to so much more than simply historic rehabilitation. Melanie Bressler, Steeple Square campus manager, said, “When the church was constructed more than 150 years ago, the steeple was a symbol of hope to the newcomers in our community. Today, we look forward to the restoration of the steeple and reopening of the Steeple Square campus serving as a welcome home and a symbol of hope to all community members.”

“Early on when we were planning the steeple restoration, the Jeffris grant was pivotal to launching a successful campaign,” McCullough said. “Their passion for historic preservation will pay dividends for generations to come.”
Steeple Square board president Jack McCullough

About the project

The restoration work includes repairing the steeple façade and roof, replacing metal sheathing and architectural details with copper components that will lasts for another 100 years; replicating and installing the four large wooden louvers, new interior ladder systems, main front doors replacement; clock and bell restoration, as well as stained glass window restoration.

Steeple restoration is expected to be complete by late fall. McCullough said the restored icon, in copper, will signify investment in the people and places in Dubuque’s urban core, and as a gateway to Dubuque’s North End neighborhood revitalization.

“The steeple signifies a community that cares about its people,” said McCullough.

Project photos


About The Jeffris Family Foundation

Founded in 1979 and based in Janesville, Wis., The Jeffris Family Foundation is dedicated to preserving regionally and nationally important historic buildings and decorative arts projects for future generations. The Jeffris Capital Campaign Challenge Grant supports the development of important historic preservation projects throughout the Midwest, including Iowa.

About Steeple Square

Steeple Square, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, has the mission to serve as a collaborative, multi-tenant, inclusive center providing an attractive hub for social life and community support while preserving its historic fabric and features.

Steeple Square is a non-profit organization made up of civic, non‐profit, business, and community leaders who are working in partnership to develop housing, jobs, training, childcare, arts/culture, and recreation through the revitalization of the former St. Mary’s parish campus.

The repurposed campus, which includes a community event center, the Maria House, the Francis Apartments, education/vocational training site, and the future Marita Theisen Childcare Center, is an agent for positive change and a catalyst for restoring lives.

For more information, email or visit their website.