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Mount Carmel
Located along the beautiful bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River in Dubuque, Iowa, Mount Carmel is the spiritual home of the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary—the “heart” where most BVM sisters first entered the community.

The original motherhouse, “St. Joseph’s on the Prairie,” was established in 1846 on a farm south of Dubuque. As more women entered the congregation, space became an issue. Mother Mary Gertrude Regan purchased 97 acres along the bluffs of the Mississippi River from Henry Stout and an additional 19 adjacent acres from the Congregation of the Mission (Vincentians).

J. Egan, an architect from Chicago, designed the three-story motherhouse that was built under the supervision of local contractor John Keenan. The brick, U-shaped building included 15-inch walls and pipes for running water, steam heat, and gas lighting.

The first sisters moved into the unfinished building on Nov. 11, 1893. The remaining sisters moved in the following year when construction was complete. The first Mass was celebrated on Dec. 1, 1893, although the construction on the chapel did not start until 1901. Archbishop John J. Keane dedicated the completed chapel on Dec. 12, 1901.

Mary Frances Clarke 1802-1887
North Anne Street, Dublin, Ireland 1832
St. Joseph’s on the Prairie 1846
St. Joseph’s on the Prairie
Entrance to Mount Carmel 1892
Construction of Motherhouse 1892
Motherhouse Completed 1893
Early Farm Building
Infirmary 1908
Mount Carmel 1928 – Motherhouse, Infirmary and Chaplain’s Residence
Philomena Hall 1936
Marian Hall 1955
BVM Center 1962
Mount Carmel Complex 1960s – Motherhouse, Philomena and Marian Hall, BVM Center, Service Building
Carmel Drive Apartments 1996
Caritas Center 1999
Pine Walk
Entrance to Mount Carmel
Aerial View of Mount Carmel
Mount Carmel Motherhouse Today
The property was named Mount Carmel in 1894; the motherhouse was named St. Joseph Convent. Over the years, three additional buildings have been added to the original motherhouse—Marian Hall, BVM Center, and Caritas Center.

Mount Carmel was a working farm into the 1950s. The barn was then used as a recreation hall, and later became the first home of the Roberta Kuhn Center (RKC), named in honor of BVM President Roberta Kuhn (1967–72). RKC remains a gathering place created to enrich the lives of older area adults.

Today, Mount Carmel is home to retired BVMs who are in need of different levels of care and sisters who are active in the Dubuque community. It is the administrative headquarters of the Sisters of Charity, BVM.

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