Elevated Women – Four Generations in Charge of the Fourth Street Elevator

by Connie Cherba

The Fourth Street Elevator – a popular Dubuque tourist attraction – has run up and down the Fourth Street Bluff since Julius Graves established a private, one-car cable elevator in July 1882 to expedite his lunch time visits to his home on Fenelon Place from his downtown bank. When Pearl Freeman Trewin inherited ownership in 1940 at the death of her husband Clifton B. Trewin, she began a dynasty of women who have owned the Dubuque landmark for four generations spanning more than 80 years.

Pearl Freeman Trewin (1871-1958)
The system of cable cars that Pearl inherited in 1940 had been much improved over the decades following Grave’s one-car design. A fire in 1893 coupled with the financial recession had been too much for Graves. Neighbors came together to take over the Elevator and formed the Fenelon Place Elevator Co. They travelled to the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago to look for new ideas and returned home with a streetcar motor to run the Elevator, a turnstile, and steel, fireproof cables for the cars. The group installed three rails with a fourth bypass in the middle to allow for the operation of two counterbalanced cars.

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