A unique 1894 duplex on a large corner lot still attracts its former family.
Outside signs identify this gorgeous mansion as “The Redstone – 15 room hotel that offers breakfast.” It is an historic, restored gem, and a great example of “Lush Queen Anne ornamentation.” Its stained glass Romanesque tower and carved sandstone are truly eye-catching.
Augustin A. Cooper built this Richardsonian Romanesque two and a half story home over six years (1888-1894) as a wedding present for his daughter Elizabeth and her husband Dan Sullivan — a 27 room mansion that they moved into ten years after they were married.
Designed by architect Thomas Carkeek, “It is constructed of red brick matched red sandstone trim, and sits on a rusticated stone foundation. Its plan is basically square, with various appendages, including two porches supported by square columns with Corinthian-style capitals, and a corner tower capped by a conical slate roof. The roof line shows great variety, and features four finely-made brick chimneys. Classical influences are shown in the terracotta friezework on the cornices over the bay window, tower, and corner gables.”
The visitor may think that even for a wealthy family, 27 rooms would be a bit extravagant. However, A. A. Cooper was thinking about the possible future needs of his daughter. To insure extra income at some point, the Redstone Mansion was originally built as a duplex. It was made up of two whole homes, with a wall between them so that the back home could be rented out if needed. The front home was more decorative and ornate for Elizabeth and family. The back home wasn’t so fancy, but still well-made, and with many pretty features.
The Inn’s doors all came from one of Cooper’s other homes, Greystone, after it was torn down in 1956 to make room for a parking lot. Inside The Redstone Inn and Suites is a wonderful display of Richardsonian Romanesque Victorian design and decor that includes carved wood, lovely antiques, hybrid light fixtures, and Italian marble fireplaces. Even the ceiling sports classic Rococo plastering, with rounded corners and stained glass windows.
The National Registry of Historic Places includes this description of the common areas: “(The) Fifth Street (family) entrance has an elaborate double entry with doors 9 feet high with lovely stained glass windows. The entrance hall is large, with paneled walls and a tiled fireplace with a half-moon mirror above it. On either side of the fireplace are built-in ‘pew-like’ seats.”
“The openings which lead off the entrance hall have wood sliding doors, and ornate grillwork at the top. The ceiling in the parlor has a design of flowers and seraphs. In the parlor is a fireplace done in maple with four Doric type columns that reach from the mantle to the ceiling. There is a mirror above the fireplace that goes to the ceiling also.”
“The dining room (which was turned into a bar, when it became a commercial business, “The Hearth”) has a triangular breakfast nook, that has a step up to it, and is enclosed by an elaborate bannister and overhead grillwork.”
“On the opposite side of the dining room there is a fireplace with built—in shelves and drawers on either side of the fireplace. There is a mirror reaching from the mantle to the ceiling, also. There is wood panelling on the walls
of the stairway going to the second floor.”
The NRHP also describes two second-floor bedrooms:
“The front bedroom, on the second floor, has a fireplace of wood and marble, with a hand-painted design on the marble. There is a small marble bubbler in the wall on the second floor. The second bedroom has a built-in marble lavatory with a mirror that pulls down like a window to cover it.”
In the Redstone Inn and Suites, the details and beauty of each room show the love that A.A. Cooper had for Elizabeth. The current owners have added beautiful antiques, and modern, popular amenities like hot tubs, that complement all the craftsmanship and Victorian era decor. Tom and I can’t wait to stay here next time we travel through Dubuque! The rooms are featured on the Redstone Inn and Suites website. In some ways, family portraits of the Cooper Clan that hang on the walls give the feeling that the Redstone Inn & Suites is still the Cooper home: particularly since it is the only one still standing of the three mansions.
After growing up on a farm, Augustin A. Cooper set out on his own at seventeen and found work on a steamship, but had to quit after getting his big toe shot by a drunkard in Dubuque. However, he made lemonade out of this lemon, and went forward, getting a job as an apprentice blacksmith. The injury to his toe prevented him from enlisting to fight in the Civil War.
Cooper worked hard and excelled. One year later, he was promoted to the position of journeyman, with a large salary of 27 dollars per month at the age of 18! He soon bought out one of the owners, and by 1862 had became the sole owner of the Cooper Wagon Works.
His wagons were wildly popular, and his company, Cooper Wagon Works, was tremendously successful. Cooper’s craftsmanship and dedication to quality, included making his wagons with wood that had been aged 5 years, a superior product head and shoulders over any other wagon. He sold 20,000 wagons a year, both in the United States and abroad.
With some of his money, Cooper bought real estate in Dubuque. At his peak he owned 27 downtown acres, and employed one third of the population of Dubuque. No matter how big his company became, he was a kind and considerate employer, who knew all of his employees, calling them all by name and giving them turkeys for the holidays.
He also built three gorgeous mansions in Dubuque for his family. The mansions all had central heat, and reflected all the quality and craftsmanship that Cooper expected. He was blessed with an artistic eye and craftsmanship; he held a high standard.
He and his wife lived in a magnificent four story mansion, The Greystone, that was located on the northwest corner of Bluff and 5th Street. His two daughters were next to receive homes.
It was the custom among the wealthy to build a house for each of their offspring. Not far away from The Greystone Cooper built the York Mansion for daughter Mary and her husband on the southeast corner of Bluff and 6th Street.
Just across the street from the Greystone, on the southeast corner lot of Bluff Street and 6th, Cooper built for daughter Elizabeth and her husband Dan as a belated wedding present, Redstone; though the deed was still held in Cooper’s name.
Apparently, he didn’t have a lot of faith that Elizabeth’s husband would do well financially. As it turned out, the extra home built in the back of Redstone became a way for Elizabeth to bring in extra money when Dan was killed in a freak accident.
Beside being an honorable and generous family man and businessman, Cooper was also a public servant. He was Vice President of a German Bank, and a city alderman.
Though he was approached by automobile makers, he declined to transition his business from wagons to cars, so his fortunes eventually waned. What finally shut The Cooper Wagon Works down was a series of devastating fires. Luckily, he and his family still lived comfortably until he died in 1919.
None of his children inherited his entrepreneurial abilities but they too lived well. After they’d also passed on, the mansions were sold. Redstone had many owners, starting in the 1920s, and continued to be a much loved building. The two other houses met different fates. York House was torn down in 1934 for a post office. Greystone was torn down in 1956 as well.
The Redstone was in demand because of its beauty and for the two homes on the property. When it was considered to be too big for a private home, it became home to a succession commercial businesses. Three bars made their business home here, but not more than a couple of years each. The Gallery (1969-1972), The Hearth, and The Redstone. The challenge was that this property was a money sucker, being a very old structure.
In 1977, The Redstone was added to The National Register of Historic Places, making it eligible for a government loan.
The Redstone was huge, as big as two whole mansions which would take enormous financial resources for maintenance and upkeep. Few businesses would be able to raise the funds needed for these repairs. By 1983, it was in danger of being torn down, despite its presence on the NRHP.
Luckily, sixteen members of the The Dubuque Historic Improvement Company provided $300,000 to finance renovation. The DHIC also hoped to buy the property and were angling for a loan from the Federal Government — but were refused! Too much money was needed. Uh oh!
So, the price was reduced to $14,000 by the owners of the Redstone Bar, so that the DHIC could buy it. The City of Dubuque lent them $35,000 and an additional $550,000 loan came from the Dubuque Bank and Trust Company. The renovation and restoring of the Redstone began on October 15th, 1984.
When the work was finished in 1985, the Redstone property was like new; a grand bed and breakfast with 15 rooms that included “deluxe suites with marble fireplaces, sitting rooms” and some whirlpools as well.
Great celebrations happened as everyone was overjoyed! Opening ceremonies on April 9th, 1985 included a preview of the Redstone Mansion that 2000 people lined up to see for a 55 minute walk through look and see. The official grand opening took place a month later during a DubuqueFest/Very Special Arts event on May 18-19th 1985.
In May of 1999, The Redstone sold for $660,000, as it had become a popular bed and breakfast. As of 2018, it is still a successful bed and breakfast, much to the relief of the people of Dubuque who care about preserving history.
The living apparently aren’t the only ones who love The Redstone Inn and Suites.
HISTORY OF MANIFESTATIONS
Structures that have been restored inside and out like they used to be with new improvements can draw back spirits who loved the original building as they knew it.
Hartford Twain House CT (When this historic house was restored to just the way Mark Twain liked it, the whole spectral family and maids moved inside).
Brumder Mansion WI (When a new bar was constructed in the theatre basement, activity there increased greatly).
Pittock Mansion OR (When this historic home was restored and opened as a house museum, the spirits of Mr. and Mrs. Pittock were so pleased that someone restored their retirement home that they moved right in again as spirits).
Redstone Inn & Suites,IA (The Cooper Family had many good times here, so when it was restored, some moved back inside).
When a spirit while alive has built several houses, and the living tear down some of the properties, the spirit can decide to stay at the remaining house or houses to keep an eye on the living, and enjoy the remaining Home or homes.
Charles Q Clapp House & McLellan-Sweat House, ME (When the living tore down his own dream home, located on Congress Ave, this must have upset Captain Asa Clapp greatly, making him distrustful of the living to care for his other two properties, The Charles Q Clapp House and The McLellan-Sweat House).
Redstone Inn & Suites, IA (A.A. Cooper and family fall under this category as well. Two of three of their family homes were torn down).
When a spirit decides to stay in his or her favorite home or business, spirits of family or friends may stay or visit to keep this family member company.
LeDuc House Museum, MN (When the spirit of Mr. LeDuc decided to spend his after-life in his forever home, his daughter decided to do so too, to keep him company).
Eldridge Hotel, KS (When the spirit of Col. Eldridge decided to reside in his hotel now named after him, his family members visit him as well).
Stranahan House, FL (The Lady of the house has decided to stay because various family members are here. She shows loving care to both the living and the dead).
Redstone Inn & Suites, IA (When the spirit of A.A. Cooper decided to reside in his home that he built, spirits of his family members visit him as well).
Spirit of a Older Gentleman
He a well-dressed, good-natured older gentleman who is thought to be Augustin himself.
This older gentleman is seen throughout the mansion, going about his business, enjoying the rooms.
They are thought to be Cooper family members.
The living have heard disembodied voices, shuffling footsteps in the hallways and bathrooms, and foot falls on the stairs.
Playful knocks on the doors have been experienced.
Since the mansion has been restored, the living have experienced the above listed manifestations.
I couldn’t find any hard evidence caught and shared with the public. If an investigation was done, it was a private one. The current owners are starting to realize that members of the original family, along with Augustin A. Cooper are keeping them company. Luckily these spirits are amiable and don’t mind sharing their home with the living. Perhaps in the future they will host paranormal classes to help bring in funds to maintain their investment.
Most Probably so.
It seems that Augustin A. Cooper has decided to stay here in his afterlife as his two other homes were torn down by the living. Family members apparently visit too, perhaps missing their torn down homes. All the spirits are enjoying the beauty and new perks added to their special home. A very friendly, congenial group of spirits, as this was how they were while alive.
504 Bluff Street
Dubuque, IA 52001
The Redstone Inn & Suites is located on the corner of Bluff Street and West 5th Street in a residential area.
- National Directory of Historical Places Inventory – Nomination Form for The Redstone Inn
- Encyclopedia Dubuque – Redstone (The)
- “Top 8 Most Haunted Hotels in Iowa” #1 – Redstone Inn & Suites hauntedrooms.com
- Redstone Inn and Suites: hauntedplaces.org
- “Redstone gets new lease on life as hotel” by Mike Hendricks of the Telegraph Herald
Publication Date: October 12, 1984
Retrieval Date: November 21, 2018
- “Fate of historic Redstone hinges on possible buyer” by Joan Goessl of the Telegraph Herald
Publication Date: July 29, 1983
Retrieval Date: November 21, 2018
- “Group decides to ‘relax,’ sell Redstone” by Kathy Bergstrom
TH Staff Writer
Publication Date: October 25, 1996
Retrieval Date: November 21, 2018
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