Capture the flavor of life along the Mississippi during the golden era of steamboating. Mathia’s Ham, one of Dubuque’s earliest entrepreneurs, built his estate in 1856 predominately through his lead mining endeavors.
The stately country villa stands today as a living reflection of its wealthy builder. Inside the homes elegant American and European furnishings exemplify the opulent Victorian lifestyle of a booming river town during the antebellum period. 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.
Costumed interpreters provide guided tours through the Mathias Ham House and share the rich history of Mathias Ham, Dubuque, the Mississippi River and the Victorian era. Also, the 10-minute film Lead Rush provides insight into the lead mining lifestyle and is narrated by renowned actress and Dubuque native Kate Mulgrew (most famous for her role as “Captain Kathryn Janeway” in “Star Trek: Voyager”).
The 1833 Settlers Log Cabin and Schoolhouse
Explore Iowa’s oldest building, an 1833 settler’s log cabin, and visit an authentic one-room schoolhouse on the grounds of the Mathia’s Ham House historic site.
At the Lead Mines
Dubuque was at the center of a nationally significant lead mining phenomenon. People came from all over the country to mine lead. Living history demonstrators tell that dramatic story at the “badger hole” (a lead miner’s dwelling) on the grounds of the Ham House.
Visit the Mathias Ham House
The 1856 Mathias Ham House historic site is open Wednesday through Sunday from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Hours are 11 A.M. to 4 P.M. (last tour begins at 4 P.M.). The Mathias Ham House is also available for field trips, group visits and private functions at any time by appointment.