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.)