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Cathedral of St. Raphael and Environs, Dubuque, Iowa

The Cathedral of St. Raphael was completed in 1861 in brick, with the front facade in limestone finished later in 1876. Dubuque is actually an archdiocese, despite being by far a much smaller city than many other metropolitan areas in Iowa. It speaks to its rich history as a Roman Catholic community that the smaller city is the seat of the Ecclesiastical Province of Iowa.

As was typical of trends in American architecture, this Gothic Revival structure replaced a Neo-Classical church; our own Old Cathedral in St. Louis is an example of such a building from that era that still stands. St. Raphael is a bit of an outlier for a “Saint,” as he was never a human, but has always been an archangel; his name in ancient Hebrew means “God Heals.”

The accompanying parsonage might be described as Italianate, with simple adornment.

On the other side is the old parochial school, which is sort of a restrained Beaux-Arts style in brick. I like it, and it works well with the other buildings in the cathedral complex.

The surrounding neighborhood is laid out along a boulevard that extends out from the front portal of the cathedral. For the first block there are some very nice houses, and then it sadly descends into deplorable gas station parking lots.

The architecture of the houses that do survive fits in well with its ecclesiastic neighbor, and it creates a nice neighborhood that combines houses with a major focal point.

But as I mentioned, the automobile intrudes to the east, ruining the grand boulevard intended to extend out from the cathedral.

There are some interesting neon signs, and that is about it.

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