Hotel Julien

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Al Capone loved this hotel and would lay low here when things got too hot for him in Chicago.



Motto: “Exceptional Accommodations / Exceptional Service.”

The Hotel Julien Dubuque describes itself on its website as being “an elegant boutique hotel that marries modern amenities with historic charm.”


The Hotel Julien is a 1915, eight floor Romanesque beauty with 133 luxury guest rooms and elegant event spaces. It is made of steel and concrete with red bricks on the outside for floors three through eight.

Its most infamous guest was the mobster Al Capone and his crew. Al Capone loved to stay here to relax and refresh himself from his vicious occupation. The Hotel Julien Dubuque has remembered this famous guest by giving him a suite named for him, though it is located on the second floor instead of the eighth.

“Taking its name from the notorious Midwestern gangster of the Prohibition Era, the Capone Suite is private, spacious, and full of luxury, just as Al Capone himself would have liked it. Tucked away on the second floor, far away from other guests, the room’s vintage theme is rich with “Old Hollywood glamour”.



There has been a luxury hotel on this strategic location since 1839, when the four story, forty room guest house, called The Waples House was built by its wealthy merchant owner, Peter Waples. Besides offering glorious accommodations, this guest house was well known for its fabulous gourmet cuisine.

In 1854, Waples House was sold to a Mr. Burton and his partner Mr. Finaly, who invested funds into a major renovation, remodeling with an added extension to double the occupancy creating 80 rooms for guests. They renamed their hotel after the city’s founder, Julien Dubuque. The Waples House became Julien Guest House.

In 1866, The Julien Guest House was bought by W.W. Woodworth for $30,000, which was a boatload of money for the time period. WW Woolworth had a grand vision for this establishment. In 1874, he took the leap of faith and began an ambitious plan to build seven new stories in the Romanesque brick and terra cotta style.

Modern amenities, and conveniences like an elevator and electricity were installed during additional renovations during 1889, 1893 and 1908. The Julien Guest House continued to thrive and make a great profit.

Disaster and destruction happened in 1913, when a fire destroyed the Julien Guest House. However, a group of local investors, The Dubuque Hotel Company led by local businessman W. H. Day realized that a large upscale hotel would be a great success at this strategic location. Willing to take the financial risk, they went all the way, building The Hotel Julien Dubuque, using concrete and steel to provide the structure with fire-proof bones. This beautiful hotel opened in 1915; becoming a positive draw to the city of Dubuque.

In 1927, among the shareholders who made up The Dubuque Hotel Company were unnamed folks from Chicago. Al Capone was the unnamed Chicago shareholder. He used to come with his fellas and move into the entire 8th floor, keeping guards to be stationed at entry points to keep all others out. Servers would come up and give the food to the guards.

The eighth floor had a great view of the river, and his mob soldier security detail could see if rivals were coming across the bridge into Dubuque.

In 1962, Louis H. Pfohl bought The Hotel Julien Dubuque and sunk a boatload of money into much needed renovations and extensive remodeling, in order to bring the building up to date for current well-to do guests. It took five years to complete, and had its grand opening in 1970. Her new name was The Julien Motor Inn. Its new refined decor included many “interesting and historic artifacts”, including lovely stained glass in the restaurant and a huge mirror in the lobby that was from the Ziegfeld Theatre in New York City.

In 2007, family members of Louis Pfohl began a second extensive renovation and restoration of this historic hotel, spending 30 million dollars. They began with the outside of the building; restoring the stonework, windows and probably point-tucking the bricks as well.

After the outside work on this structure was completed, the hotel was closed so that a complete restoration and renovation of the interiors of the hotel could be done. The hotel was given its original 1915 name; The Hotel Julien Dubuque. It had its grand reopening in September 2009, having both its classic 1915 grandeur back and offering the modern amenities and “sophisticated refinement” that up-scale guests expect.



Former spectral guests of an establishment like to visit or stay in their favorite places in this world.

Troubled spirits like to stay in a place that brought them peace, refreshment and joy.

Al Capone loved this hotel and would lay low here when things got too hot for him in Chicago, or when he needed a holiday.



The freight elevator has a mind of its own. Nothing is wrong with the mechanics.

One couple that was having a good time enjoying amorous activity in their suite were surprised when the light on the bed table popped on during their climax of love.

Staff and guests have had paranormal experiences for years.

No hard evidence that I could find on line in a public venue has been shared. The Hotel Julien Dubuque doesn’t mention their spirits.

Perhaps The Hotel Dubuque had a private investigation done, which may be why they have named a suite after Al Capone; to make him feel wanted and at home in his favorite hotel. The Al Capone Suite is off by itself on the second floor, with no guest rooms near it. Perhaps, they are trying to encourage this spirt to stay away from their living guests up on the higher floors.

Entity with dislikes

One male guest felt a burning sensation on his shoulder for about a minute while lying in bed.

The next morning he found that he had a scratch on his shoulder.

Perhaps his likeness or what he did for a living could’ve inspired this bad spectral behavior. If the guest was in law enforcement this could’ve been the reason.

Entity of Al Capone

A male entity that resembles Al Capone dressed in typical clothing of his era has made his presence known on the upper floors.

One guest went down the hall to get some ice and experienced both his unseen and seen presence, as many guests have reported.

When seen by the living, the spirit of Al Capone sometimes appears as a short, squatty shadow with a fedora on his head.

His unseen presence inspires hair standing up on the neck, and folks can feel him watching them.

Entity of a female

She floated by the office of a staff member, about 5 feet off the floor near a staircase.


Most probably so. Most historic hotels have spectral residents or visitors. It is likely that Al Capone likes to spend some of his after-life in his favorite earthly hotel. A female spirit, and perhaps one of Al Capone’s male guards now in spirit form keep him company.




200 Main Street
Dubuque, IA 52001

Hotel Julien Dubuque is located in downtown Dubuque on Main Street, between West 3rd Street and West 2nd Street, and is right off the 61 FWY.




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