Clarke Manor is named in honor of E (Ebenezer) Lincoln Clarke, who built the house circa 1854 and occupied it with his family until his death in 1903. Dr. Clarke practiced Dentistry for an astounding 63 years until 1902 and was renowned for his technical and teaching skills. Dr. Clarke was a well-known and highly respected citizen of Dubuque, in his personal life as well as his profession.
By coincidence, Clarke Drive and Clarke College, one mile west, are named not for Dr. Clarke, but for Mother Mary Frances Clarke, apparently no close relation.
Succeeding the Clarke family in 1905 was three generations of the John Roshek family. Roshek came to Dubuque in the 1880's and opened a dry goods store so successful that it caused him and his sons to occupy successively larger quarters, most impressively Roshek Bros. Department Store at 7th and Locust Street. This quarter-million square foot 10-story building remains the largest department store ever built in Iowa and dominates the downtown Dubuque skyline. Its toy department, cafeteria and Christmas decorations are fondly remembered by all Dubuquers old enough to have experienced them.
Surely the Rosheks watched the edifice, now known as the Dubuque Building rise daily from their home, now Clarke Manor, in 1929-1930. The building, apparently seamless, was built in two sections, staged so that the one-half of the earlier Roshek retail building it was replacing could remain in operation during construction. The department store building was converted to offices in the late 1960's as Rosheks moved west to Kennedy Mall. That store was later sold.
During the Roshek tenure, extensive expansion and modernization of Clarke Manor occurred, several wings were added, the library expanded and paneled, and the exterior stuccoed and renovated in the fashionable turn of the century Spanish Mission style. The surrounding stone wall was built of limestone block salvaged from the magnificent Greystone Mansion of the Cooper (Wagon Works) family, sadly dismantled in 1956 to make way for a parking lot.
The third family to occupy Clarke Manor was the Essers, who made further improvements, and documented and publicized its history.
The fourth family to own Clarke Manor was that of Mario and Angelina Bertolini, who own and operate Mario's at 13th & Main, a fine, authentic Italian Restaurant and Lounge, the most popular in Dubuque. The Bertolinis raised two beautiful daughters here and also improved the property, expanding the garage and upgrading infrastructure and the gardens. Thanks to the efforts of Angelina and her daughters Lidia and Dina, the gardens bloom profusely with early spring tulips, muscari and crocus, followed by masses of fragrant peonies.
Amazingly over 150 years, only five families have held title to Clarke Manor. The current owners are your hosts, Taylor and Barbara Walter, previously misplaced Midwesterners. The Walters fell in love with historic Dubuque and Northeast Iowa generally and Clarke Manor especially. They have sought to preserve, enhance and polish this "Masterpiece on the Mississippi." The property has recently received individual Historic Designation by the State of Iowa, thereby enabling the new owners to share it with a few lucky, appreciative guests as a Bed & Breakfast Home.