Architecture

When Margaret Douglas Hall gifted Brucemore to the National Trust in 1981, the house represented a blend of stylistic trends and modifications made by the three families who called the house their home.

Each family updated and modernized the home as they needed, much the same way that you renovate bathrooms, update kitchens, and add "great rooms" to your own homes. The Brucemore Mansion demonstrates in subtle ways the changes in tastes and technology spanning a century of residency.


The Sinclair Era: 1884-1906

"The grandest house west of Chicago"

Caroline Sinclair's home made quite an impression in 1880s Cedar Rapids — and not just because of the $55,000 price tag.

The house sat on top of a long slope facing the main route into town, confidently demonstrating, in both size and style, the Sinclair family's status in the community.

A widow at the age of 33, Caroline Soutter Sinclair commissioned Indianapolis architect, Maximillian Allardt, to design a home for her and her children. However, during construction, Allardt returned to Indianapolis to be with his daughter who had fallen ill.

Local architects Henry Josselyn and Eugene Taylor finished the project, constructing a four-story, 21-room, Queen Anne style mansion on the ten-acre site — or, as the local newspaper described it, "the grandest house west of Chicago."

Check the links at right for detailed views and descriptions of Brucemore during the Sinclair era.


The Douglas Era: 1906-1937

Meeting the needs of a growing family

Although little evidence on the interior of the Mansion during the Sinclair era exists, available information reveals that George and Irene Douglas renovated extensively when they took ownership of Brucemore.

The Queen Anne style was losing favor by the 1910s, with Victorian ornateness giving way to the more simplistic decoration style of the Edwardian Era. The Douglases altered the Mansion to reflect the increasingly popular Craftsman style.

A focus on the craft and materials led to designs featuring decorative beams and braces, porches supported by tapered square columns, and low pitched roofs.

The Douglases continued to modify the function and décor of rooms throughout their 30-year residency.

Check the links at right for detailed views and descriptions of Brucemore during the Douglas era.


The Hall Era: 1937-1981

Modernizing and streamlining

Howard and Margaret Douglas Hall lived in the Garden House on the estate after their marriage in 1924.

In 1937, Irene Douglas bequeathed Brucemore to her daughter, and the couple moved into the Mansion.

While Howard always referred to the Mansion as "your mother's house," Margaret and Howard left their modern and somtimes whimsical mark on their home.

Check the links at right for detailed views and descriptions of Brucemore during the Hall era.