mount carmel bluffs

Mount Carmel, home of the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVM), was established in 1889 along the beautiful bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River in Dubuque, Iowa. The BVM Sisters established a partnership with Presbyterian Homes & Services (PHS) of Minnesota, which shared BVM’s faith-based values and vision for creating a full-continuum senior community to best serve the mission of the Sisters and the greater community. In addition to creating a living community to support the Sisters and providing non-denominational housing for older Dubuque residents, the goal was to preserve the site’s character and highlight the beauty of its river bluffs setting. Mount Carmel’s original Motherhouse, St. Joseph Convent, is an important piece of Dubuque’s legacy. Through the phased redevelopment, the Motherhouse became the heart of the campus – with improved accessibility, renovated amenity spaces for community, worship, wellness and educational programming.

Dubuque, IA
Date of Completion:
Project Size (Sq. ft)
423,644 SF

Exterior Before | After

Mount Carmel Bluffs, LLC (Partnership of Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Presbyterian Homes & Services/Senior Housing Partners)
Mount Carmel Bluffs, LLC (Partnership of Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Presbyterian Homes & Services/Senior Housing Partners)
Pope Design Group
Interior Design Firm:
Senior Lifestyle Design
Conlon Construction

Main Entrance Before | After

The main entrance of the Caritas Center on the river side, showed the connection to the Motherhouse (turret on the left). Now, a new two-story atrium shows the connection to the Motherhouse and new independent living residences.

The temperate California climate also encourages an indoor/outdoor lifestyle, inspiring our members to enjoy
outdoor dining and lounging next to the fireplace in our courtyard.

Commons Entry Before | After

Original stained glass were part of the Motherhouse riverside entry and vestibule, which was not accessed or seen by many. Now, the history of the campus is preserved and highlighted. These original stained glass features now have a prominent home in the new commons atrium.

Designed to offer each member an elevated and engaged life, including the Elegant Palmer Library and Lobby.

Dining Before | After

This view of a Motherhouse living room showed the potential of these large rooms with views to the river bluffs and historical details. Now, the Motherhouse spaces have been transformed to create gathering, dining and activity spaces, including this new dining room. Existing features were preserved and enhanced with colors, wallcovering, carpeting and new furniture.