Brucemore is a 19th century historic center and mansion seated on 26 acres. It is located in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The Brucemore mansion was built in 1880’s for the young widow Caroline Soutter Sinclair. Her late husband, T.M. Sinclair owned a very successful meatpacking facility. She lived in the mansion with her six children.
Located two miles from the center of town, the mansion became a symbol of the progress and industrial revolution taking place in Cedar Rapids. It was called the “grandest house west of Chicago”.
In 1906, George and Irene Douglas took ownership of the Brucemore estate and extensively renovated the interior. The Douglas family owned the company that would later become Quaker Oats and provided employment for many citizens of Cedar Rapids. Their industries were largely responsible for the industrial and cultural development that took place in the early 1900’s in Cedar Rapids. Throughout their 30-year ownership, the Douglas family continued to update and remodel the estate.
In 1937, George and Irene Douglas passed ownership of the Brucemore mansion to their daughter Margaret Douglas Hall and her husband Howard Hall. The Halls added their own touches to the house including a Tahitian Room and Grizzly Room. Howard Hall even had a pet lion that was kept on the grounds of the estate.
It remained in the Hall’s ownership until it was gifted to the National Trust in 1981. The house carries stylistic influences of all three families that owned and cared for the properties through the years. Each owner also impacted the landscape of the Brucemore estate adding meadows, gardens, a variety of trees and a timber-lined pond. The beautiful estate represents over a century of community and history.
The Brucemore estate provides a variety of activities and events both in and around the mansion.
The 26-acre property offers many opportunities to explore the outdoors. The formal gardens are surrounded by four walls consisting of a grape arbor and a brick terrace. The beautifully manicured gardens boast beautiful perennials and annuals in a variety of colors. The vegetable and cutting gardens, planted in 1907, include fruits, vegetables, and seasonal florae. The inhabitants of Brucemore, during its time as a primary residence, used these gardens for cooking and as a small source of revenue. Today, the vegetable and cutting gardens provide a beautiful setting for a leisurely stroll.
The Servant’s Village provided housing for the employees of Brucemore and their families.
An orchard with nut-producing trees, pool, guest house, tennis courts, Alfalfa field, pet cemetery, night garden and pond are also included on the extensive grounds.
An area fittingly called “The Timber” provides a place of solitude, tranquility and relaxation among the towering trees. It includes two rustic gazebos with picnic tables.
Visitors can tour the 21-room Queen Anne style mansion. The main floor houses the Great Hall, the library, and the simplistic and efficient kitchen which was managed by a single cook. The second and third floors contain the nursery, Swan Room, and additional bedrooms. The Tahitian Room and Grizzly Room are located in the basement and were added by Howard Hall as a retreat or “man cave.”
The style of the mansion changed with the owners over the years, but restorations by the National Trust have brought the estate back to the Queen Anne style the house had during the Douglas era. The home originally had more of a Victorian style under the Sinclair’s ownership.
The Visitor’s Center
The visitor’s center is located in the Central Hall of the Carriage House which was built in 1911 and has since been restored. The visitor’s center gives an overview of the history of Cedar Rapids over the past 150 years. It also displays pictures, artifacts, home movies and other information about the families who lived at Brucemore throughout the years. Also included in the visitors is a scale model of the Brucemore estate as it looked in the 1920’s.
Events and Educational Opportunities
For over 30 years, the Brucemore estate has served as a leader in community involvement and cultivation, hosting over 45,000 visitors annually. Festivals, theatrical performances, specialty tours, garden walks, and landscape hikes are among the many activities that take place at the Brucemore.
The Brucemore’s handsome estate provides the perfect backdrop. While weddings are not permitted, areas of the Brucemore are available for certain functions and are open to the community. Located in the heart of Cedar Rapids, the Brucemore estate is the perfect location for functions in Cedar Rapids.
2160 Linden Dr SE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52403, Phone: 319-362-7375