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Major renovation planned for the Dubuque Arboretum’s Visitor/Education Center

About this planned renovation

[July 28, 2017] The Visitor/Education Center is about to experience a major renovation. It’s truly the hub of the Arboretum. It’s where community residents gather for artistic painting, for family reunions, birthday parties, weddings, and off-site activities for care facilities. Many educational workshops and volunteer trainings are conducted here. Children from area school districts also regularly utilize the facility. In addition, the building is a nucleus of activity … for our volunteers and visitors alike. We think providing an appealing and welcoming facility will increase the likelihood of more tourists and return visitors.

The Dubuque Arboretum Visitor/Education Center serves as a place to:

  • welcome visitors,
  • distribute maps of the grounds,
  • coordinate events,
  • host workshops, and
  • house our offices.

Tour buses and care facility vans pull up to the front doors here.

History of the Visitor Center and Rationale to Renovate

The existing Visitor Center was erected by volunteers in stages and has cedar siding. Now, more than 25 years old, the siding is old and weathered, cracked and broken. The heating/cooling of the building is a challenge due to little or no insulation. Our plans include insulating and re-siding the building as well as adding some architectural changes to enhance the center visually.

Three-fold goal of the enhanced Visitor Center

  1. Replace the old, broken siding with new siding. The chosen, new siding will retain the old wood character but it also has new technology which should last 70 years.
  2. Increase the energy efficiency of the building. By pulling off the old siding and putting in new insulation prior to residing, we should get greater energy efficiency with important cost savings as well.
  3. Give the Center a new and inviting look with more historically accurate barn-like features.

Plans for the Building Remodel

Widening the entrance to the building and adding handicapped-accessible features to the doors. The current entrance is small and narrow, making it hard for our older guests and handicapped residents to maneuver.

Improving our energy efficiency. The building is extremely inefficient and has hot and cold areas, making it hard to regulate temperatures. Insulating the building will increase our self-sustainability by decreasing annual energy costs.

Upgrading our “look” and improving our visibility. The siding is grayed, cracked, missing in places and warped. Because of the weathered condition of the building, many of our visitors do not know this is where tours of the gardens begin.

A hearty “thank you” to the Woodward Foundation who provided us with the seed money for this project. This project is also possible through the generosity of the Katherine Hoffman Estate.

Sandi Helgerson, Executive Director

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