Iowa’s Oldest Building Has Been Around Longer Than Iowa Has Been a State
The oldest building in Iowa is also the oldest existing log cabin west of the Mississippi. It will celebrate its 200th birthday later this decade.
The Louis Arriandeaux Log House was built in 1827, according to a historical marker on the building. According to the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium, it was built in what is now downtown Dubuque by Arriandeaux, who was a French fur trader from Canada. The log home is known as a dogtrot cabin, two rooms separated by a breezeway (photo below), which was much more popular in the south that places like Iowa.
In 1833, Arriandeaux sold the home for approximately seventy dollars. He received a horse, saddle, and tack in exchange for the house.
In 1850, the home was purchased by A.A. Cooper, who founded Cooper Wagon Works, for $150. One of the Cooper Wagon Works Buildings still stands in Dubuque.
A.A. Cooper's son William Cooper eventually owned the home. When he passed away in 1915, the log cabin, which had been covered with flat pieces of wood and painted, was going to be demolished.
Locals saved the home and, in 1917, it was moved to a new home at Eagle Point Park in Dubuque. The move was a slow one as each log had to be moved individually. It spent nearly a half-century at that location where it was used as a pavilion for picnics.
In 1965, it moved to its current location at the Mathias Ham Historic Site at 2241 Lincoln Avenue in Dubuque. The Ham home, below, was designed by architect John Francis Rague. He is also credited for helping to design the Old Capitol in Iowa City (at bottom).