Brucemore

Brucemore Inspiring community interaction with history, preservation, and the arts since being founded in 1981.
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Brucemore's 26-acre, park-like estate invites exploration of its history, gardens, grounds, and 21-room Mansion. Each season, nature's changing beauty entices visitors to the estate offering new experiences. Concerts, theater, festivals, garden walks, holiday celebrations, and tours enliven the site and celebrate the heritage of the community. For more information, please visit http://www.brucemor

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If you've visited Brucemore during the holidays, you've had a chance to explore how the Douglas family celebrated the se...
12/07/2023

If you've visited Brucemore during the holidays, you've had a chance to explore how the Douglas family celebrated the season. Have you ever wondered how the Halls decorated? This photo from 1956 shows a wintery display on top of the organ in the Great Hall.

Photo donated by Carolyn Shimek

There are so many things to do in Cedar Rapids this holiday season! Check out the Cedar Rapids Tourism website for a lis...
12/06/2023

There are so many things to do in Cedar Rapids this holiday season! Check out the Cedar Rapids Tourism website for a list of holiday events, shopping, and dining. As you're planning your festive outings, don't forget to book one of our holiday tours! Details are available at brucemore.org/holidays.

Join us through December 31 to experience the splendor of the holidays at Brucemore! 🎄
12/05/2023

Join us through December 31 to experience the splendor of the holidays at Brucemore! 🎄

🎄 Holiday tours available through 12/31   December is here, which means the holiday season is in full-swing! Come celebrate at Brucemore with our award-winning Christmas tours. These festive experien

On mornings like this we can understand why the Douglases chose the name Brucemore for their estate. The story of the na...
12/05/2023

On mornings like this we can understand why the Douglases chose the name Brucemore for their estate. The story of the naming of Brucemore says that George Bruce Douglas looked over the front lawn on a foggy day and was reminded of the moors of Scotland, where his father was born. He combined his middle name and "more" to name the estate in a nod to his Scottish ancestry.

Thanks to everyone who participated in today's Art at Brucemore workshop! All these sweater ornaments are ready for a wo...
12/03/2023

Thanks to everyone who participated in today's Art at Brucemore workshop! All these sweater ornaments are ready for a workplace holiday party!

This snowy view of the mansion was photographed in 1956. It was one of over 40 photos taken for the Halls' Christmas car...
12/03/2023

This snowy view of the mansion was photographed in 1956. It was one of over 40 photos taken for the Halls' Christmas card.

A Modern Salon is almost sold out! Tickets are still available for the final performance on January 27. This collaborati...
12/03/2023

A Modern Salon is almost sold out! Tickets are still available for the final performance on January 27. This collaboration with SPT Theatre is a night of stories and music in the mansion's Great Hall. It is a unique way to experience Brucemore that you won't want to miss. Visit bit.ly/AModernSalon2024 for details and tickets.

Every year for our holiday tours we display special items from our collections. These pieces were owned by the Douglas f...
12/02/2023

Every year for our holiday tours we display special items from our collections. These pieces were owned by the Douglas family and help bring their Christmas celebrations to life for guests today. This silver tea set is always placed in the room the family called home base. Do you know which room that is? Let us know in the comments!

Details and tickets for holiday tours are available at the link in our bio.

Have no fear if you don't see the deer! 🦌 The deer statue from the formal garden is headed to Minnesota for some conserv...
12/01/2023

Have no fear if you don't see the deer! 🦌 The deer statue from the formal garden is headed to Minnesota for some conservation work. He'll be gone for awhile, but you can expect to find him in tiptop shape when he returns.

This project is supported in part by the National Trust for Historic Preservation Historic Sites Fund.

Did you see our segment on Everyday Iowa this morning? Check out the video to see a preview of the mansion's holiday déc...
11/30/2023

Did you see our segment on Everyday Iowa this morning? Check out the video to see a preview of the mansion's holiday décor and learn more about our upcoming tours and events. If you want to see more, get your tickets at brucemore.org/holidays.

Jennifer Beall welcomes us to Brucemore for the holidays! Find out how you can tour the historic mansion to see the magic for yourself.

  Day 30: Why Museums?Museums are places to engage with history, science, and the arts. They provide a resource for life...
11/30/2023

Day 30: Why Museums?

Museums are places to engage with history, science, and the arts. They provide a resource for life-long learning and gathering places for the community. Our mission at Brucemore reflects these crucial roles of museums as we aim to inspire community interaction with history, preservation, and the arts.

We hope that you have enjoyed learning more about Brucemore during Museum 30! If you want to engage with the site in person, visit our grounds or purchase tickets for a tour. Information about how to visit can be found on our website at brucemore.org/visitor-information.

  Day 29: ActivityDuring the holiday season, we have hands-on activities in the mansion to help you get in the festive s...
11/30/2023

Day 29: Activity

During the holiday season, we have hands-on activities in the mansion to help you get in the festive spirit. Stop by to leave a calling card for Irene Douglas and see if you can find the hidden Leos throughout the mansion.

Holiday tour tickets and details can be found at brucemore.org/holidays.

Today is the last day to vote for Brucemore as a top 10 holiday historic home tour! Show your support for Brucemore by 1...
11/29/2023

Today is the last day to vote for Brucemore as a top 10 holiday historic home tour! Show your support for Brucemore by 11:59 AM at bit.ly/Brucemore10Best.

  Day 28: IconMahala Dutton Douglas grew up in Cedar Rapids, where she became well-known for her involvement in the arts...
11/29/2023

Day 28: Icon

Mahala Dutton Douglas grew up in Cedar Rapids, where she became well-known for her involvement in the arts and non-conformist attitude toward social expectations. Mahala lived a colorful life that was often documented in Cedar Rapids society pages. She is rumored to be the inspiration for Carl Van Vechten's novel The Tattooed Countess. She married Walter Douglas, the brother of George Bruce Douglas, in 1906. Mahala and Walter were frequent guests at Brucemore. They stayed in the Swan Room at the mansion before their 1912 trip to Europe, which ended with boarding the Titanic.

Mahala's reputation as a social icon grew in the days following the Titanic disaster. Her testimony to the US Senate inquiry about the event was shared in newspapers and called the "best and most graphic story" of the tragedy. Mahala lived for 33 years after the sinking of the Titanic, passing away in 1945. During that time she gained a reputation in Minnesota for the lavish parties with influential guests that she held at Waldon, the estate that Walter Douglas had purchased for the couple before his death.

While Mahala once wrote "my stars were in such conjunction at my birth that, in spite of all the gifts the gods had given me, I would never amount to anything," after her death many newspapers chronicled the influence she had. In 1947 Sally Luther wrote for the Minneapolis Tribune that Mahala's "glamourous career as a hostess of Waldon, a woman of influence and an author of charming and revealing memoirs" had earned her "a permanent place in modern American folklore."

We had a great opening weekend for our holiday tours! These award-winning holiday experiences will continue through Dece...
11/28/2023

We had a great opening weekend for our holiday tours! These award-winning holiday experiences will continue through December 31. Details and tickets are available at brucemore.org/holidays.

The self-guided tour looks into the mansion’s history and architecture, allowing visitors to explore the first, second, and three floors of the abode.

Our first Holiday Nights tour of the season is just one week away! Experience the magic of the mansion aglow in twinklin...
11/27/2023

Our first Holiday Nights tour of the season is just one week away! Experience the magic of the mansion aglow in twinkling lights. This special holiday experience includes three floors of the mansion and the basement. Learn more and book your tickets at bit.ly/HolidayNightsTours.

  Day 26: LanguageMost of the materials in our archives are in English, but we have a few documents in other languages. ...
11/26/2023

Day 26: Language

Most of the materials in our archives are in English, but we have a few documents in other languages. Margaret Douglas' WWI scrapbook contains several letters in French sent to her by mothers of children that the Douglas family supported through the Fatherless Children of France. This program was created during WWI to that allow American families to “adopt” a child whose father was lost in the war. This postcard was sent to Margaret by Lucie Lefranchi, whose son, Georges Lefranchi, was one of the children that Margaret supported.

Translation:

Dear Benefactress,

On September 10 we received the package from Paris, containing two small boxes of honey and two of jam, and almonds and hazelnuts. We all thank you from the bottom of our heart. The children were happy to bite into these treats, which they’ve been deprived of in this time. I put the honey and jam aside for wintertime, when there will not be any more fruit. We send you [top] as well as your parents our deepest feelings of respectful gratitude.

Your deeply obliged,
Lucie Lefranchi

  Day 25: BoldThere are several examples of bold wallpaper designs in the mansion, but the wallpaper in the nursery is o...
11/25/2023

Day 25: Bold

There are several examples of bold wallpaper designs in the mansion, but the wallpaper in the nursery is one of the most memorable. This wallpaper was designed by English artist Walter Crane in 1876 and produced by Jeffrey & Co. During the 19th century, wallpapers with child-friendly motifs grew in popularity as more families were able to dedicate rooms in their homes to be used as nurseries. Walter Crane was well-known for his designs using characters from fairytales and nursery rhymes.

While the original wallpaper was removed when the Halls converted the nursery into a guest room, archival photos from the Douglas era helped the Brucemore team to identify the design. Samples of the original wallpaper were found in the collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and reproduction wallpaper was created for Brucemore in 2002.

You can read more about 19th century wallpaper designs for children and see a photo of the original wallpaper from the V&A collection at vam.ac.uk/articles/wallpapers-for-children.

This reindeer figure is a staple in our annual Christmas décor. Do you know where it is always placed? Share your answer...
11/25/2023

This reindeer figure is a staple in our annual Christmas décor. Do you know where it is always placed? Share your answer in the comments!

Details and tickets for holiday tours are available at the link in our bio.

  Day 24: AccessoriesThese purses are just a few of the accessories in our collection. These purses belonged to Barbara ...
11/24/2023

Day 24: Accessories

These purses are just a few of the accessories in our collection. These purses belonged to Barbara Douglas and were donated to the Brucemore collection by her daughter, Borden Stevens. Which one is your favorite?

  Day 23: FilmThe Hall's had many friends in the entertainment industry, which allowed them to visit several film sets d...
11/23/2023

Day 23: Film

The Hall's had many friends in the entertainment industry, which allowed them to visit several film sets during their travels. This photo shows Howard Hall with Virginia Mayo and Dennis Morgan on the set of a Warner Brothers western, circa 1950 to 1960.

Happy Thanksgiving! We hope that you have a relaxing day celebrating with friends and family. If you want to learn about...
11/23/2023

Happy Thanksgiving! We hope that you have a relaxing day celebrating with friends and family. If you want to learn about how Margaret Douglas Hall celebrated the holiday during her boarding school years in New York, you can read this post written by Brucemore staff in 2020.

Margaret Douglas Hall kept a diary for much of her life. As one of many primary sources in Brucemore’s archives, it provides valuable first hand insight into life in the…

Do you love Brucemore at Christmas? Then don't forget to vote for us in the USA Today 10Best Reader's Choice awards for ...
11/23/2023

Do you love Brucemore at Christmas? Then don't forget to vote for us in the USA Today 10Best Reader's Choice awards for best holiday historic home tour. You can vote daily for one more week at bit.ly/Brucemore10Best.

Santa will be at Brucemore in less than a week! Don't miss your chance to see him during Santa, Snacks, and Stories. The...
11/22/2023

Santa will be at Brucemore in less than a week! Don't miss your chance to see him during Santa, Snacks, and Stories. The evening will be full of activities to help your family get in the holiday spirit. Visit bit.ly/SantaSnacksAndStories23 for details and tickets.

  Day 22: TimeA nice clock is always useful if you want to keep track of time! This clock was given to Howard Hall in 19...
11/22/2023

Day 22: Time

A nice clock is always useful if you want to keep track of time! This clock was given to Howard Hall in 1959 in honor of the 25th anniversary of Amana Refrigeration, of which he was president.

  Day 21: DiscussionHow many times have you had a discussion sparked by something you saw at a museum? Discussions are a...
11/21/2023

Day 21: Discussion

How many times have you had a discussion sparked by something you saw at a museum? Discussions are an important part of the museum experience and they "can ultimately have more impact on a visitor's memory of the experience than the objects and labels themselves," according to museum visitor experience expert John Falk. When you visit Brucemore, you can find many opportunities for discussion, whether that be with other members of your group or our staff and volunteers.

  Day 20: PrideFrom 2018 to 2021 we ran the Pride and Preservation capital campaign to support preservation work on the ...
11/20/2023

Day 20: Pride

From 2018 to 2021 we ran the Pride and Preservation capital campaign to support preservation work on the mansion. This campaign received donations from over 700 individuals, businesses, foundations, and government entities, allowing us to complete our Mansion Envelope Restoration Project. The project received one of 10 “Preservation at its Best Awards” for “Best Community Effort” in 2020 and a Certificate of Merit at the Excellence in Iowa History Awards in 2023. We take pride in the work we have done to preserve this historic structure and the commitment our community has shown for ensuring Brucemore is a place for connecting with history, preservation, and the arts for generations to come.

If you want to learn more about the work done during the Mansion Envelope Restoration project, visit bit.ly/BrucemoreMERP.

We are honored to be nominated for USA TODAY's 2023 10Best Readers' Choice award for Best Holiday Historic House Tour al...
11/20/2023

We are honored to be nominated for USA TODAY's 2023 10Best Readers' Choice award for Best Holiday Historic House Tour along with our fellow National Trust sites! We are currently ranked at number 6 and would love your support to stay in the top ten. You can vote at the link below once per day until November 29.

Voting for the Best Holiday Historic Home Tour is open! Cast your vote daily to help pick the 2023 10Best Readers' Choice Award for Best Holiday Historic Home Tour.

Thanks to all of Santa's elves who attended this month's Art at Brucemore class! We think your holiday trees are absolut...
11/19/2023

Thanks to all of Santa's elves who attended this month's Art at Brucemore class! We think your holiday trees are absolutely tree-mendous!

  Day 19: ShadowsHere's a throw back to 2016 when The Gazette photographer Liz Martin photographed the shadows created b...
11/19/2023

Day 19: Shadows

Here's a throw back to 2016 when The Gazette photographer Liz Martin photographed the shadows created by the setting sun in the Grant Wood Sleeping Porch. The porch was designed by Grant Wood in 1925, five years before he painted American Gothic.

Irene Douglas was fond of birds, both as pets and as motifs in her interior design. Her love of birds inspired the Chris...
11/18/2023

Irene Douglas was fond of birds, both as pets and as motifs in her interior design. Her love of birds inspired the Christmas decorations in one room of the mansion. Do you know which one? Tell us in the comments!

Details and tickets for holiday tours are available at brucemore.org/holidays.

  Day 17: HandsIf you've ever visited a museum, you've heard not to touch the objects. Handling museum collections takes...
11/17/2023

Day 17: Hands

If you've ever visited a museum, you've heard not to touch the objects. Handling museum collections takes care and training to insure that items can be preserved for future generations to enjoy. Our hands have oils that can damage items, so curators will use gloves, usually cotton or nitrile, when handling objects from the collection.

  Day 16: TechnologyThe Douglas family's wealth enabled them to be early adopters of technology. One prominent example i...
11/16/2023

Day 16: Technology

The Douglas family's wealth enabled them to be early adopters of technology. One prominent example in the mansion is the 1927 electric refrigerator in the kitchen. Early electric refrigerators were primarily for commercial and industrial markets, with domestic models being uncommon until the 1930s. This refrigerator is believed to be one of the oldest electric models installed in Cedar Rapids.

You can read more about the kitchen at Brucemore and other historic homes in this recent post from the National Trust for Historic Preservation: https://bit.ly/3st2AGf.

Photo: Brucemore kitchen circa 1950s

Don't forget to vote for Brucemore as a USA Today top ten Best Holiday Historic Home Tour! You can vote once per day thr...
11/16/2023

Don't forget to vote for Brucemore as a USA Today top ten Best Holiday Historic Home Tour! You can vote once per day through November 29. Visit bit.ly/46PhuFw to show your support for Brucemore and help us stay in the top ten!

  Day 15: FrameThe frame of this girandole mirror is one of our favorite items in the mansion. Girandole mirrors are nam...
11/15/2023

Day 15: Frame

The frame of this girandole mirror is one of our favorite items in the mansion. Girandole mirrors are named after the candle arms (girandoles) that extend from the frame. The frame of this mirror is made of giltwood and features a rope pattern at the outer edge, beaded pattern on the inner edge, and a repeating ball decoration on the concave portion of the inner frame.

  Day 14: TravelBy 1917, 4.8 million motor vehicles were registered in the United States.  However, the condition of roa...
11/14/2023

Day 14: Travel

By 1917, 4.8 million motor vehicles were registered in the United States. However, the condition of roads lagged far behind. An automobile vacation was an adventure with washed out bridges, muddy roads, tire punctures, and mechanical breakdowns.

Charles Horn, the Douglases’ chauffeur, noted on these photographs: “1914 Returning from trip to San Diego, California – this bridge on road to Santa Barbara had been washed out, we had to cross the river bed. I am building a road through the loose sand with branches and twigs.”

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2160 Linden Drive SE
Cedar Rapids, IA
52403

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