Four Mounds Cultural Landscape Master Plan - Dubuque, IA

Four Mounds, a Craftsman-era estate set atop the Mississippi River bluffs just north of Dubuque, Iowa, is a model for integrated ecological and historic landscape planning. Lead by landscape architects, teaming with a cultural landscape historian, this master plan addresses a rich layering of historic contexts on this National Historic District property.

Reaching far beyond a typical historic site master plan, this study introduces sophisticated integrated water management for erosion reduction on steep slopes and the irrigation of historic plantings. The plan also lays out strategies for restoring the once open native prairie and bluff woodlands spread over the 400-acre site. This plan combines state-of-the-art sustainable practices with strategies for preserving the estate’s unique cultural and designed historic landscapes. As such, it is one of the first historic preservation plans in the Midwest to integrate design history and ecology.

Led by Jeffrey L. Bruce & Company, the plan rectifies the neglect of landscape history in previous historic preservation studies through a detailed landscape architectural and ecological inventory to guide the development of management zones based on specific character, such as woodland or formal garden.

The recommendations lay out a path for investment and sustainable building to meet Four Mounds’ innovative missions in the decades to come.



  • Four Mounds Foundation | Dubuque, IA

  • City of Dubuque | Dubuque, IA

  • Frank Edgerton Martin, Cultural Landscape Historian | Port Henry, NY

Site Features 

  • 220 acres of high-quality woodland and prairie

  • Team-building ropes course

  • 3/4 mile trail

  • Picturesque views over Mississippi River



"We were thrilled with the results... a comprehensive approach addressing preservation and restoration of a myriad of historic and natural resources, while implementing a sensitive approach to 21st century needs."

-Chris Happ Olson, Former director, Four Mounds Foundation


  • 2013 American Society of Landscape - Architects/ Prairie Gateway Planning and Analysis Merit Award