One month after the derecho

Storm Update – September 17, 2020

September 17th, 2020

One month after the derecho

It has been over one month since the derecho, a storm with winds in excess of 110 mile per hour, caused extensive damage in Eastern Iowa and at Brucemore. The Brucemore staff has transitioned from the immediate crisis mode into what is expected to be a long recovery process.

Initial assessments estimate $2.5 million in damage to the seven historic and three modern structures, outdoor statuary and other historic features, and 26-acres of gardens, orchard, wooded areas, and cultural landscape. Insurance will not cover all of this damage.

View two photo albums via facebook to get a glimpse of the damage and recovery, including:

Staff, with the help of OPN Architects, documented the damage and provided initial recommendations for the buildings. Rinderknecht Associates tarped the roofs of multiple buildings in the immediate days following the storm to prevent further water damage. Staff removed outdoor statuary from the estate where possible and built protections around pieces that could not be relocated indoors. Multiple insurance adjusters have visited the site to gather information.

The most notable structural damage occurred with the slate roof of the mansion, the historic Lord & Burnham Greenhouse, the modern Ludy Greenhouse, and the decorative metal Linden Drive gate. This damage will be reparable but will require significant resources and time, as well as external experts in preservation, conservation, and landscape curation.

Staff have divided the estate into zones to focus tree and debris removal on the most critical areas. Multiple tree removal contractors have been focusing on hanging limbs and trees beyond the scope of internal resources. Based on discussions between Trees Forever and Brucemore staff, as well as certified arborists, the site is expected to lose hundreds of trees and 70% of the canopy. This includes over 50 trees that are more than a century old.

While tours of the estate have ceased due to the damage, the two music programs originally scheduled to open the week of the derecho were still held. The talent rescheduled to start the four-week series two weeks late. Over 1,000 people enjoyed a relaxing night under the stars and 15 artists had the opportunity to share their talent and passion for the first time in months. Brucemore will continue supporting the cultural community in October through an outdoor theater experience and partnership with Theatre Cedar Rapids. The production of St. Nicholas will be held in the Carriage House courtyard, building on the tested experience and COVID-19 mitigation from the music series. 

The grounds remain closed to the public outside of designated programming. This facilitates access of multiple large contractor vehicles assisting recovery efforts and is for the safety of everyone involved. 

To support recovery efforts, donate to the Pride & Preservation campaign, which has designated a portion of funds for landscape recovery. More information will be shared regarding volunteer opportunities to assist with site clean-up in October.


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.