The University of Iowa

Dey House

Peter A. Dey

Honoree: Peter A. Dey 
1825 - 1911
(photo, Special Collections Department, University of Iowa Libraries)


  • Graduated in 1844 from Geneva (later Hobart) College, then studied law for two years in the office of Dexter Bloomer
  • From 1852 on, Dey's career was associated with extension of railroad lines in the West and by 1853 Dey was chosen to be head engineer for a project to extend the railroad line into Iowa where Dey established a home in Iowa City
  • After his resignation from the railroad, Dey returned to his home in Iowa City, where he became an active local businessman and politician
  • Appointed to the Examining Board and the Building Committee of the State University of Iowa; South Hall and North Hall both were built during his tenure
  • Appointed as one of three members of the Board of Capitol Commissioners to superintend the construction of a new state capitol in Iowa City

Dey House Side View


Description of facility:

The Dey House, home to the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, is one of several historic homes adapted for reuse as academic or administrative space by the University. Peter A. Dey, who brought the railroad to Iowa City in 1855, had commissioned the house to convince his fiancée to move west from New York City and join him here. The University purchased the house in 1923, but the Writers’ Workshop has only been in the house since 1997. Today, the house represents the core of a writer’s community, making Iowa City an epicenter for top writing talent. The Dey House has been expanded since its original construction, most notably with the addition of an ornate hall and staircase in the 1870s. While respecting the original house as the front door to the Writers’ Workshop, the 2006 addition nearly doubles the programmed square footage.

Address: 507 North Clinton Street
Year built: 1847
Additional building information: Dey House

Aerial View of Building