Digitization of Farmstead Foods Collection

Public Help Requested

December 15th, 2014


For more information, contact:

Anne Russett, AICP

Planner, Community Development Department

City of Cedar Rapids

101 First Street SE

Cedar Rapids, IA 52401

Office: 319/ 286-5075




Public Invited to Help Digitization Efforts of Farmstead Foods Collection

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA – December 10, 2014 – The City of Cedar Rapids, the Cedar Rapids Historic Preservation Commission, and Brucemore are collaborating on an effort to digitize and preserve historic artifacts related to the T.M. Sinclair & Co. Packing House (also known as Wilson & Company and later as Farmstead Foods).

Members of the public are invited to bring in personal historic items that may add to the Farmstead Foods collection during a walk-in collection period on Tuesday, January 6, 2014 between 2:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. at City Hall (101 First Street SE), in the lower level training room.

Historical experts will be on site to evaluate material brought in by members of the public, and scan those resources for potential inclusion in the historic collection. Most items will be scanned and returned on site during the event. Oversized items may require additional time to scan or may be photographed for inclusion in the collection. Historic items may include photographs, blueprints, letters, newspaper clippings, etc.

The collection will be digitized and developed into a public online database collection, which will be made publically available through the City of Cedar Rapids’ website and Brucemore’s website.

For questions on the event, please contact Anne Russett in the Community Development Department at (319) 286-5075 or via email.  

Overview of the T.M. Sinclair & Co. Packing House:

The T.M. Sinclair & Co. Packing House (Farmstead Foods) has been an integral part of the history of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, since its establishment in 1871. The packing house operated for over a century, becoming the fourth largest meatpacking plant in the world by 1878. The Midwest meat market came to be dominated by Wilson & Co., Hormel, and Oscar Meyer. Wilson & Co. operated the plant in Cedar Rapids until July 2, 1984 when it was purchased by Farmstead Foods and operated by Cedar Rapids Meats, Inc.

The Cedar Rapids plant closed March 8, 1990, and six days later, Farmstead Foods filed for bankruptcy.

After it closed in 1990, all that remained of the company’s noteworthy history were its buildings.

Spanning the period from 1880 to 1978, the construction and varied uses of these buildings painted a picture of the evolution of the plant and the important changes that took place in the meatpacking industry.

After severe flooding in 2008, the City of Cedar Rapids initiated demolition of the buildings on the site. This digitization project is an effort to preserve this unique historical heritage.

(Information courtesy of Brucemore, as well as “Fidelity” and Cedar Rapids, Iowa: The History of T.M. Sinclair & Co. Meat Packing, draft booklet prepared by Eric Barr of The Louis Berger Group, Inc.)


Do I need to pay to enter the estate and walk on the grounds?

No. Visiting the Brucemore estate during grounds hours is free. Tickets are only required for scheduled tours and events, and they can be purchased in advance online.

Is a reservation needed to visit Brucemore?

You do not need a reservation to visit the grounds on your own. You do need a ticket to go inside the mansion. We recommend purchasing tickets in advance online or by calling 319-362-7375 for any of our mansion tours or other scheduled special themed tours due to limited capacity. Please visit our calendar to see upcoming opportunities and to purchase your tickets.

Touring the Mansion

Can I take pictures inside the mansion?

Yes. Photography is allowed during tours for personal, non-professional use. Tripods, selfie-sticks, or other photography equipment will not be permitted. Photographs should not distract from others’ enjoyment.

How large is the mansion?

Brucemore is approximately 15,000 square feet.

How many fireplaces, rooms, and floors does Brucemore have?

There are 21 “main” rooms, 14 fireplaces and four floors plus an attic.

Is all of the furniture original to the house and families?

Much of the furniture you will see on display belonged to the second or third families to live at Brucemore; however, some pieces had to be replaced with replicas or similar antiques.

Is the mansion handicap accessible?

The Brucemore mansion includes multiple floors and several staircases. Because of the historic architecture, some spaces are not accessible. Due to preservation work, the wheelchair lift that offers accessibility to the first floor is not available at this time. An elevator is not available from the first floor to the other floors at any time. Learn more about accessibility at Brucemore.

Group and School Tours

Is there an age requirement for students visiting Brucemore?

You do not have to be a certain age to visit or attend a program at Brucemore. Different programs are best suited for different ages. Tours of the mansion are recommended for 4th grade students and older.

Where do we park?

Parking is available on site a short walk from the mansion or carriage house. Buses must follow special instructions. Large events may not be able to accommodate on-site parking; please see the event calendar information for exceptions.

Is bus parking available?

Yes. Bus parking is available near the carriage house. Buses must arrive via special directions as they are unable to fit in our historic gates.

Is there a lunch area at Brucemore?

There are a couple of small picnic tables in the orchard and Adirondack chairs in pairs across the property to utilize during the warmer months. You are also welcome to bring your own blanket or chair to picnic on the grounds. Please carry out any trash to help our small staff keep the grounds beautiful.

Does my group have to arrive together?

Your group does not have to arrive together, however, parking on site is limited.

What is your payment policy?

Brucemore admission for group tours is often requested to be paid prior to the visit and a deposit may be required. Payment can be made by cash, check, or credit card and should be paid in one sum.

Do I need to make an appointment to tour the mansion?

You must have a ticket to a tour or program inside the mansion. Many tours do sell out in advance; purchase online or by calling 319-362-7375 in advance of your visit to guarantee your spot. See the schedule here.

Is the mansion wheelchair accessible?

The mansion is not currently accessible to wheelchairs due to preservation work. The mansion includes multiple flights of stairs. Most of the outdoor areas of the site are accessible. See our full accessibility information and contact us with additional questions regarding your visit.

Can I walk on the property?

Yes, the grounds and gardens are open daily most of the year. Several self-guided interpretive panels are available. See hours here.

What is Brucemore’s ticket policy?

Tickets are non-refundable, but may be rescheduled for comparable programs as space allows. Learn more.

I’m attending a large event at Brucemore. Where do I park?

Large events may require you to park offsite. Please read the event details on the calendar for specific information for each event.

Are weapons allowed at Brucemore?

We prohibit weapons on the property and at programs to ensure the safety and security of all employees and people visiting Brucemore.