CEDAR RAPIDS – The History Center celebrated its new home in a historic house with a grand opening today.
Hundreds of visitors streamed through the doors of the building, used for years as a funeral home after serving two prominent families and renovations by Iowa’s most renowned artist, Grant Wood.
The four-year effort began with the purchase of the Douglas mansion, built around 1897 and one of the last surviving homes in the “Mansion Hill” neighborhood, which once boasted 120 houses of similar grandeur in northeast and southeast Cedar Rapids.
Related: Historic mansions of Bonaparte, Iowa
Built for the George B. Douglas family, the building is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Caroline Sinclair, the first owner of the Brucemore estate in Cedar Rapids, swapped homes with the Douglas family in 1906, so her family could live in the city and the Douglasses moved to what was then the countryside.
From 1924 to 1935, Grant Wood lived next to the home above a carriage house at 5 Turner Alley, where he painted “American Gothic” among other works.
Executive Director Jason Wright noted that enough money was raised during the center’s capital campaign to open the new site, at 800 Second Ave. SE, without a mortgage.
Festivities included a ribbon-cutting ceremony, live music, talks by historian Mark Stoffer Hunter and crafts for children.
See photos of the mansion when it was first purchased by The History Center and more images from today’s events: