Convivium, Four Mounds, Millwork District, L. May – Dubuque

Impressed, as always, with developments in Dubuque. At the recommendation of our host at Four Mounds, we drove to nearby Convivium a cafe/event space/urban farm headquarters in a somewhat gentrifying north Dubuque neighborhood. Impressive place that opened recently, with a light airy dining area including a coop with fresh chicks, a mural from a world-class artist (part of a broader mural project of murals scattered throughout Dubuque) and artwork by locals on the walls. Convivium, as I understand it, is the headquarters of an urban farm project with an interesting model — the gardens are in borrowed space in the backyards of people living houses neighboring the cafe.

We also stopped at a bakery and shops in wide open space in the Millwork District, a gentrifying warehouse district near the River. Dinner the night before was good at L.May downtown. (Excellent pork shanks).

The weather was gloomy when we woke up at Four Mounds but we had an excellent breakfast and chat with the caretaker (who sent us to Convivium) and I got a chance to walk around the grounds and wander around the other lovely house on the property (the White House…we stayed in the Grey House.) I learned that Four Mounds was part of the “gentleman farmer movement” (1880s to 1930s). The owners were a wealthy Chicago couple who also lived part of the year in California. I’ve heard about gentlemen farmers but not of an actual movement. (And why no mention of gentlewoman farmers?)

On Highway 151 and then 1 to Iowa City (a rare diagonal route!) we stopped briefly in Anamosa to see the famous reformatory there (a prison that was intentionally designed to be attractive with the idea of providing an environment conducive to reforming criminals. Sadly, I don’t believe it worked.) and then drove through Stone City, a tiny hamlet where Grant Wood lived and through pretty Mount Vernon (Home of Cornell College, which is older than my alma mater Cornell U.).

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